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THERE is no economy without investing in infrastructure. Therefore, any country that does not put this matter on top of its priorities will remain backward and will repel capital. As for the total dependence on a single source of income and the talk about the welfare of society, we are forced to stay optimistic. Infrastructure is one of the most important sources of sovereign assets.
In fact, it is wealth, if well exploited in roads, electricity, water, health, education, or even waste. Unfortunately, our successive governments do not have a vision in terms of employing the available capabilities to provide sources of wealth other than oil. Rather, it is satisfied with the promises included in its programs presented during each session of the National Assembly, after which it goes back to its old habits and devotes itself to bickering with the parliamentarians.
At a time when the Gulf countries and many other countries of the world progressed by strengthening and investing in infrastructure and worked in return to modernize their laws to be in line with the developments of the times, only Kuwait is still living the mentality of the sixties and seventies of the last century, and its infrastructure is dilapidated; in fact, it is a source of waste of time and money.
This is due to the fact that if any project is approved, it will either “be fixed” among the privileged or deliberately disrupted, as is the case with the University City, which was approved in the mid- 1980s but has not been completed to this day because those supervising the development of these projects considered them as a source of benefit for them and not to serve the state and the people.
This is an example of the government’s disregard for sovereign assets. The biggest disaster is spending abroad for developing countries through modern infrastructure projects, and showering them with soft loans and grants, while our government is unable to even maintain the internal roads in one of the areas. When we say look at the neighboring countries and where they are, the attack against us begins, as the attackers only know the phrase “Kuwait is different.” Indeed, if Kuwait is “different,” we must be for the best, not the worst. Countries that modernized their infrastructure were able to enhance their economic role and attract investments from all over the world. An example of this is the Emirate of Dubai, which years ago was able to recover the money it spent on its development projects, including the metro, which was used last year by 351 million.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, as well as many developed countries, follow the “Build-Operate-Transfer” (BOT) system in their development projects. The state does not pay any money, but the project eventually turns into a source of income for public finances after a few years. On the other hand, everything is forbidden in Kuwait. With us, they withhold money for fear of poverty. Because of this scarcity, we have a scandal and crisis every day. Development is just a slogan that the governments of incense, perfume, and tea sing about, as they care only about appearance but not substance. Therefore, Kuwait is going against the cycle of time, as if backwardness and being outdated is in its essence. Hence we can say that even waste recycling is sovereign wealth.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times