DIVERSIFICATION of the sources of income away from oil is a necessity that we have been hearing about since the first session of the Constitutional Assembly nearly six decades ago. However, we have not seen a single step being taken in that direction. We see the fight against corruption — which is another story — in every agenda prepared by all of the 36 governments that were formed since independence to this day, but such a fight is nonexistent in reality.
These promises are unfortunately never fulfilled; in fact, scandals are being exposed with every new government in relation to misuse of the public money, bribery, and mismanagement. What is worse is that every new exposed scandal is greater than the previous one.
“We are not zealous about fighting corruption. In fact, we are afraid of the events that would unfold in the future” — These are the words we heard from His Highness the Prime Minister during his recent meeting with the editors-in-chief of local newspapers.
The post-liberation stage represented a historic opportunity to rectify the root causes for all the disasters that preceded the invasion. Instead, we saw corruption prevail to such a degree that it could no longer be hidden.
From scandals related to embezzlement in Kuwait Oil Tankers Company, extinguishing the oil wells, the Dow Chemical deal, the Public Institution for Social Security and its actuarial deficit, and others, to the ones that are repeatedly spoken about but without anyone doing anything about.
His Highness the Prime Minister, the people of this country for a long time have memorized what you said during the meeting. People see corruption but do not see the corrupt behind bars. Even those who were put on trial were given light sentences, either due to the lawyer’s eloquence, or the mishandling of documents by a junior employee. For example, the court ruling involving a minister in which the date was omitted intentionally in order not to implement it.
Therefore, all that the people of this country want today is salvation. If there is no eradication of corruption, then at least contain it.
Kuwait was a pioneer in integrity and governance, but it has become a prey of greed. There is even mistrust that this is the final homeland for Kuwaitis, especially after liberation, which was what successive governments did not work to address in order to at least return to its previous era, if it could not have done better.
On this occasion, I recall the statement made by one of the leaders in the Gulf countries who said, “Kuwait thinks, and we implement”. This means, we talk the talk but we do not walk the walk.
We conduct studies and researches, and we make plans but others implement them. All this is due to the continuous blame game in which the government casts responsibility on the Parliament, and the latter responds with more accusations. Every morning we wake up to a new battle, and the country continues to retrogress culturally and socially.
At a time when the Gulf states are opening up, Kuwait is tightening up. Even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is getting rid of the darkness that was hovering over it but we continue to close in our nation. Is this the Kuwait we want to achieve through the “2035” Vision?
The decision to open up the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia came from the top of the leadership pyramid, not from the ministers or assemblies. If there were no King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, we would not have seen such social, cultural and economic openness in Saudi Arabia.
His Highness the Prime Minister, what Kuwait needs is not just the enactment of legislation, but the existence of an authority that has nails and fangs to implement things decisively.
As for the diversification of the sources of income, it cannot be achieved by stifling the economy, but through openness. This should not be subjected to a “tweet” from here and there, or from an MP who is seeking interests. Rather, it begins with an administrative revolution that has become a necessity after overlapping powers in ministries and institutions where exceptions have exceeded duties.
May the words that I have said to Your Highness represent the actual beginning, and that the government will implement the supreme order of His Highness the Amir, which is to eradicate corruption, and approve the laws resting in the drawers of the National Assembly, not to become an arena for battles of interests between MPs and ministers.
I, as an observer of events for the past 50 years, fear whenever I hear this high tone of rhetoric and slogans, because, as we are used to, it ends up in the opposite direction, and this means great disaster.
Therefore, in the end, it is the implementation that counts. We hope the remainder of the government’s life will not be an obstacle or a justification.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times