WHY all this fuss about the fuel price hike? Is this the kind of issue that necessitates tears from the current and previous members of the Parliament who aspire to return to the legislature, or from politicians whose parliamentary membership was nullified; hence, they fish for anything in order to start a political brawl?
No one falls for the stunts of those shedding crocodile tears a, especially when everyone is aware of the economic crisis that threatens the entire world, not just Kuwait. The only way out is to adopt procedures which could be painful at the moment, but healthy in the future.
Therefore, those trying to buy the electoral loyalty of citizens by using public funds — the wealth of Kuwaitis — should save bootlicking tears they shed under the pretext of protecting those with limited income. They are the ones who have exhausted the limited income earners with empty promises. They have yet to find a solution, because they bought votes of limited income earners, which led them to win parliamentary seats and all goodies that come with the seat while leaving voters hanging with their issues.
Who benefits from electricity and water subsidies? Is it the limited income earners or the owners of investment buildings? What about the food subsidy? Does it not benefit only the traders? Hence, they should not lie to the public that they are fighting for limited income earners; because in reality, the limited income earners are not in need of a bag of rice, a liter of cooking oil or a can of cheese. What they need is guarantee for their children that they will have an economically and financially stable country.
Indeed, the State’s food subsidy will sound rational if Kuwait is poor and its people live below the poverty line; thus, they need international aid. According to every renowned international organization, Kuwait’s poverty level is KD 1,200 (approximately $4,000) and the income of a Kuwaiti family is not less than KD 2,500. This raises a question on whether such a family needs food subsidy, so the politicians take advantage of their needs to satisfy their electoral lust.
Everyone is supposed to feel the risk as the level of subsidies has reached about KD7 billion per year. This is unjustified milking of public funds. If it continues, there will not be much left for the future generation to face changes happening in the world, especially the gradual abandonment of fossil oil as the main source of energy, which is our only source of income.
Undoubtedly, the citizen’s rights are guaranteed by the State as per the Constitution, in the same manner that citizens have obligations to the State. One of these obligations is stated in Article 48 of the Constitution as follows: “Payment of taxes and public impost is a duty in accordance with the law, which regulates exemption of small income from taxes to maintain the minimum standard of living”.
Unfortunately, the consecutive governments did not implement this law when the oil price brought surplus. At the same time, these governments were unable to remind citizens about their obligations, whereas the politicians were left with freedom to choose articles that increase their political gains through improper use of political accountability.
For a very long time, these people have hijacked the government’s decision and crippled its institutions and projects, such as social security, foreign investments and other major projects. They did not leave any blemish without attributing it to anyone working in such projects under the guise of “fighting corruption and protecting public funds,” among other empty headlines that shook members of the Cabinet, prompting them to withdraw from any reform plan.
The State has the right to impose taxes as per the law to help those with small income; thus, all of us must work on that. In fact, we should raise our voices to achieve this goal. Every fuss should be in the interest of this pressing national agenda, not to exploit the small income earners in brawls just to serve the interest of a political bloc, politician, greedy trader or a lawmaker who has nothing to offer but indirect looting from public funds, for instance, overseas medical treatment, nepotism, random employment and illegal services used as a ticket to keep the parliamentary seat.
If the State really wants to be fair, it should follow the example of other countries, such as allocating some funds for low income earners from the money generated by the fuel price hike so no one will be hurt by such measure, although we are convinced on one will be hurt. The fake uproar is not meant to defend the interests of limited income earners, as it is for those whose pockets will be ‘blotted’ with money.
No country can advance if it remains in captivity of those who strive to benefit from it and blackmail it without giving anything back. During crises, countries usually turn to their people for support. Given that the government does not take decisions without a comprehensive study and review by international experts, it should stick to its decision once it makes one.
The government should not submit to the shenanigans of some cultivated minds or MPs, because they are not more informed about a decision than those who spend time studying and reviewing it. Our government and leaders should realize that the State is the decision in order to stand firm amidst the strong waves of shenanigans and unsubstantiated words.
The State should have courage to explain its position and reasons without bargaining, or else, the people will not forgive it if things go wrong, when neither whining nor wallowing will help salvage the situation, or even “love to please” others, which brought us to the misery we are living in.
Previous governments depended on the abundance of wealth hoping it will last forever, so they used to submit to pressure from those benefiting from the status quo. All this happened because those governments failed to learn from the previous crises.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times