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AT a time when international and regional challenges are on a rise, and neighboring countries have made preparations and continue to make preparations in order to avoid any setback, we in Kuwait are unique. As soon as we get out of a pickle, we fall into another one. It is as though we are living on another planet.
For years, we became accustomed to dealing with caretaker governments. On the other hand, the National Assembly is either suspended due to its conflict with the government, or does not fulfill its role due to disagreements between its members, or even end up getting dissolved, and thus the whole country becomes paralyzed.
At a time when experts are talking about a new global financial crisis, which is what most of them have been expecting since late last year, neighboring countries have strengthened their financial assets at home through a group of development projects, and immunized themselves from the aftershocks of the expected financial earthquake.
On the other hand, Kuwait is still unable to fend off the slightest risk to its sovereign assets abroad because it put all its eggs in one basket.
What was stated in the AlShall report that the Kuwaiti economy is proceeding with a policy of hitting the wall with speed definitely did not come as a surprise.
All countries work to maximize their internal sovereign assets through electricity, water and infrastructure projects, hospitals, industry, educational institutions, roads, etc., enhance their food security, and work to establish metro lines and trains to facilitate transportation and transport goods, in partnership with the private sector. When they need taxes, they impose on those sectors, and at the same time, they boost the salaries of junior employees.
According to official reports, the size of Kuwait’s sovereign fund is USD 770 billion, which is employed in foreign investments and Western stock exchanges. It seems that Kuwaiti economic decision-makers did not realize the consequences of the previous crises.
In the year 2008, there was a harsh experience that all countries went through, especially the Arab investments in the West. Sovereign assets lost a certain percentage back then. Today, the world is facing the beginning of a similar crisis and perhaps one that is bigger than that. While countries fortify their assets and sovereign assets at home, Kuwait is losing and its economy is declining.
It is clear that we did not learn from the experiences of the past, especially from the crises. We also did not work to immunize public money from looting. We failed to learn from what occurred in Spain during the invasion, the losses in the Vietnam refinery or in Britain, the corruption scandals that unfolded in the London office, and the famous Mercedes incident. When an employee wanted to pressure the company to appoint him into its board of directors, Kuwait paid heavy taxes to fulfill that employee’s wish.
When a country imports everything from cars to toilet paper and needles, it is apparent that it is living in an unusual situation. This is due to the fact that successive governments succumbed to profit-seeking merchants who worked to weaken industries. If they had invested USD 300 billion at home and had strengthened industries and infrastructure, there is no doubt that they would come out of the bottle of mercy of the countries from which they import.
Here we ask – Does the constitution or law prevent the promotion of development or domestic industries?
If this is the obstacle, then amend the constitution and enact legislation that encourages development and strengthens the financial assets at home. However, with the current situation, there is no doubt that we will soon find Kuwaitis looking for work abroad instead of bringing in expatriate labor for our services.
Today, with the new developments, we will have to wait for sometime before we have a strong government and a functioning National Assembly. Until that time, decision-makers must realize that it is necessary to give the bow to its archers to stop the pillaging of our national wealth and destiny.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times