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Sunday , October 24 2021

Surplus of looters, not ‘budget deficit’

INTEGRITY of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled is undoubtedly intact. Everyone knows that he does not get butterflies in his stomach when he decides to take reform measures.

However, his reluctance in dealing with matters head-on is strange, to the extent that questions are being raised about what the future holds for Kuwait in terms of taking firm measures, especially with regard to the money looted from various sectors, and the situation the country has reached as a result. This may suggest that the hands of His Highness the Prime Minister are tied.

Opportunity still exists to chop off the hands of looters even if by circumventing the law to regain the looted public wealth, or at least to recover what was looted in the past three decades.

Offences against the public wealth are not time-barred from prosecution. In this regard, we will not repeat the talk about the measures taken by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and other Gulf Arab states, even though there is a saying that “repetition is good for the smart people”. Nevertheless, it seems that every official has a night to sing to, so they do not learn from past experiences until it is too late.

The institutions concerned with oversight, the State Audit Bureau, and the ministries have all project files in store for decades. Therefore a review and assessment of them by impartial global experts will reveal the billions that were looted a long time ago.

In addition, there should be re-evaluation of the companies that were awarded tenders through hookups from an official here and there, as Kuwaitis still remember to this day the five or six companies that had major projects, and the “change orders” that cost sometimes more than the value of the project itself.

By the way, “change orders” do not exist anywhere except in Kuwait. They are an innovation. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Every newly invented practice (in the religion) is a heresy, and every heresy is a misguidance.”

This misguidance has caused the state’s finances to drain, such as the tenders for the supply of masks, medicines and other medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. This serves as a clear example in this regard. Before that, the cost of an oil refinery was raised to three times its cost, following the procrastination in dealing with the decision to award it.

In addition to that are the roads and infrastructure projects in new residential areas, the tampering with budgets for armament and weapons maintenance, and scandals that were revealed and that cost the state tens of millions of dinars.

Your Highness the Prime Minister, Kuwait does not have a shortage of either funds or of looters. Therefore, whenever the cave of Ali Baba and the hundred thieves are closed, the funds will overflow, and the budget will not suffer from a deficit.

All this depends on a decision from Your Highness as the one responsible for the executive authority and the administration of the state. Either you rise up to it, or you become a witness to its loss while you wait on the pavement of time.

We hope that the scene of Abu Abdullah Al-Saghir of Granada will not reoccur after the fall of Granada in 1492, when his mother Princess Aisha Al-Horra chided him by saying, “My son, you do well to cry like a woman for what you could not defend like a man.”

We hope that His Highness the Prime Minister will crown his integrity and clean slate with firm decisions that will redeem the country from its crises.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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