HIS Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled, kindly pardon me for not being able to attend the meeting you called for the editors-in-chief of local newspapers, which is scheduled for today. I am still under quarantine after my recent return to the country.
Nonetheless, the Arab Times and Al-Seyassah newspapers will be represented by the Deputy Editor-in-Chief Sulaiman Abdulaziz Al-Jarallah.
By the way, we hope that His Highness will be alerted to a very important matter, which is that those who travel for one week and return to the country have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period. Those coming from certain countries spend 15 days of quarantine in a “transit” nation, and are still subjected to a similar period of quarantine upon arrival in Kuwait.
Undoubtedly, hotels and service sectors are flourishing in those countries while our hotels remain empty due to the consequences of the crisis, when those arriving in Kuwait may be obligated to undertake institutional quarantine and spend such money locally.
Until the officials pay attention to this matter, we return to the most important issue.
In our editorial yesterday, we advised His Highness the Prime Minister to offer the olive branch to the people instead of the MPs. This is to protect the government from being exposed and appearing weak in front of the people. The MPs are sprinkling populist slogans, and when the government yields to the MPs’ calls, the credit goes unfairly to the MPs.
Your Highness the Prime Minister, we have said this again and again. Kuwaitis are not asking for the impossible. All they want is the elimination of injustices that are the outcomes of procrastinations in solving their simple problems.
For instance, the successive governments did not take any serious step to solve the housing issue despite its simple solution. In the neighboring countries where population density is much higher than Kuwait and those in need of houses could be more than the Kuwaiti population, their government came up with realistic projects.
In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the state resorted to allocation of enough land area, and the construction of houses was entrusted to major companies. It also guaranteed the interests of loans offered to citizens payable for a period of 40 years.
The same happened in the United Arab Emirates, where new cities have been built, and homes are more luxurious than in Kuwait.
In Morocco as well as the Sultanate of Oman, the state guaranteed the interest of loans, and launched a large urban workshop.
Your Highness, you could send delegations to those countries to study their experiences. As you know, there is “no greater support than consultation”. As for letting the situation remain as it is, it would mean turning around a vicious circle and the worsening of the crisis.
The second issue is loans, something that we have talked a lot about. This is because the government’s ears only hear the voice of the beneficiaries of the continued suffering of 120,000 Kuwaitis who are victims of obstinacy in the legal procedures that are in the interest of the creditor. The government has left the matter under the influence of parliamentary interests such that candidates use it as a ride to reach the National Assembly.
The solution to this issue is also simple. The government must agree with the banks to reduce or drop interests and reschedule the principal debt for twenty years with its guarantee, as well as reconsider the legal procedures.
In the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar, there is no longer such a thing as “suspending services”. However, Kuwait continues to cling to it. If a citizen owes KD 10, his transactions will be suspended until he pays that small sum, and such complicated procedures cost the state ten times the amount.
His Highness the Prime Minister, yesterday the Minister of Finance announced the draft budget for the year 2021/2022, stressing that the budget deficit has reached KD 12.1 billion, and a large proportion of the budget goes to salaries.
The state continues to implement the Kuwaitization plan, which involves providing jobs in the public sector for the citizens… This is merely disguised unemployment. It can work with the common saying – “Hunger is the best sauce”, that is, instead of random employment and use of wasta, the government should stop supplementing salaries, and force everyone to go to work in the private sector. Whoever is qualified to work in the public sector should apply for a job in it, provided he/she is productive.
These issues only need a legal revolution, and the opportunity is now available to you, Your Highness. Do not resort to compromises with the MPs who suck the blood of the people with slogans. It is only then the government will get rid of the burden of absurd parliamentary pressure.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times