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CONSIDERING that the financial and economic philosophy has remained the same since the early 1960s, it is not surprising that the state budget deficit is about KD 12 billion, and is expected to worsen in the coming years.
Oil is no longer a strategic commodity that is attractive to the world. It has created an almost permanent crisis in reconciling the national output with spending, which is mostly rentier, and wasted without any benefit to the country.
From here, we direct our words to His Highness the Prime Minister in an honest manner so that he may read and follow, and then come out of the circle of silence to take action through a series of bold decisions that preserve the minimum level of luxury for future generations, and bring Kuwait out of the deficit.
This is the black hole that cannot be disposed of, under the dependence to borrow for continuing to support the subsidies for food items, water, electricity, health, education and fuel, in addition to the annual cost of corruption amounting to more than KD 2 billion, all of which is the source of the deficit that successive governments, including the current one, refuse to acknowledge.
This crisis will worsen in the future, especially since the wages and subsidies constitute 73 percent of total spending. The government hence has no choice but to get rid of subsidies for goods and services, and liberalize their prices, similar to many countries in the world that are more wealthy than Kuwait such as Norway and Germany, as well as some countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, which lifted subsidies and in turn worked to increase the wages of employees, and allocate care to people with limited income in terms of medicine, education and others.
To stop all this waste, it is necessary to turn electricity, water, health and even schools into joint stock companies. This means that the consumer becomes the owner, and the government works to determine who is covered by health and educational care, in addition to seriously combating corruption and improving state revenues, as well as working on developing realistic plans to diversify sources of income.
All this cannot be done without an economic and financial advisory council that includes Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti experts to conduct studies and develop solutions that save the country about KD 12 billion annually, and stop the worsening deficit.
Also, this will not happen if His Highness the Prime Minister does not see what is going on around us in the world. Otherwise, public finances will continue to decline, and Kuwait’s debts will increase. On that day it will be useless to cry over the ruins of a country whose leaders missed long-term plans, so it lived on what was set in the past even though it is no longer valid for our time.
It is true that this will be painful at first, and that many electoral slogan brokers will make any decision in this regard that would harm the pockets of the people, but in reality these people are working on frustrating the hopes of the people, and even killing the future of Kuwait in pursuit of a narrow personal interest.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times