IN HIS speech during the inauguration of the current parliamentary term, it is glaring that His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has put everybody in a position to shoulder national responsibility in order to ensure the country continues moving on a path where nothing impedes its development.
This is important in facing challenges emanating from the massive fall in prices of oil and its effect on the national budget due to inability to diversify sources of revenues for decades. Reasons for this failure include the historical profit-oriented attitude of lawmakers who believe it is the best way to maintain popularity among constituents and electoral worthiness. This led to the pathetic situation in which Kuwait finds itself.
Undoubtedly, continuing with this pace of wastage will speed up bankruptcy of the country to the extent of inability to pay salaries of employees and carrying out the least obligations. Right there and then, electoral bribery laws and vituperations will be useless. Such actions have been widespread true to a popular saying, “Do away with what is in the pocket, what is in the unknown will come to you.” It is unfortunate that the country is the only one in the region yet unable to contain the looming crisis. Other GCC countries have taken bold steps to protect their financial status with the support of citizens who understand the magnitude of risks involved.
Today, the highest authority in the country issued a warning through the directive and call for embarking on the much-needed “financial reform and anti-graft action.” He also cautioned the legislative authority against falling into the trenches of self-centeredness, because it is tantamount to trivializing the huge trust that citizens put on lawmakers.
The warning alarm sounded by the Amir shows nobody should link economic and financial reforms with personal interests. Money wasted today cannot be replaced in the future, while lifting subsidies on goods and services which cost the country a whopping sum of KD 7 billion annually can be spent on various profitable projects and aids.
At the same time, the decision will ensure comfortable standard of living for citizens who are expected to perform their obligations to the country in order to continue enjoying their rights. This entails a give-and-take situation. The country should not remain burdened with high rate of absurd wastage which is beneficial to only a section of lawmakers and influential people at the expense of citizens and incoming generations.
Without a doubt, everybody understands the essence of encouraging the private sector in diversifying sources of income. This will not be realized unless their stake in management of State projects increases, in addition to attracting foreign investments by breaking barriers against them. This should start with elimination of bureaucracy, overlapping of responsibilities in concerned authorities, ease of movement for people and goods, and enactment of protective laws. These steps will put Kuwait on the right track towards diversifications of sources of revenues — an appropriate alternative for the welfare State and absurd wastage.
There is no alternative to reform and reduction of expenditures as they will not be beneficial to Kuwait if without combating corruption. There is no excuse for failure to squash means for drastic solutions, because altercations and triviality will keep us moving around a vacuum which could drag Kuwait into trenches.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times