WITH Kuwait reaching the bottom of the corruption list in the Gulf region and falling by 20 points in the global corruption index, I believe we, especially the decision makers, should feel a bit ashamed.
However, we are daily witnessing the contrary in the newspapers, as our officials in government and parliament are always seen with a wide smile.
I do not understand the reason behind such a smile. If they possessed just a fraction of self-respect, they would have hidden their faces, similar to the way grownups, during the days of our childhood, used to cover their faces so that no one would identify them when they came from an area that was known for its wickedness.
Let us go back to the ridiculous aspects of corruption which continues to aggravate and spread day after day.
Some time ago, I met a political personality from Europe who had diplomatic experience in Kuwait in the 90s. Currently, he is working as an economic consultant for his country’s companies here in Kuwait.
The consultant narrated to me several spiteful stories of his association with the management and routine processes of the government and the companies it owned. Among these stories, the most ridiculous incident I heard was about the time when this former diplomat needed assistance from a ministry to solve a problem that a major company which he represented was facing.
In short, he did not get what he wanted because of the corruption he encountered while seeking the assistance. When I asked him why he did not seek audience with the minister, he responded by saying, “The minister wanted to meet, so he instructed his aide to organize the meeting. However, that aide wanted a “bribe” in order to organize the meeting. Thus, that meeting did not happen”.
Did anyone ever expect corruption in our country to reach such levels? That corrupt minister does not meet anyone without intercession or the request of his “joker” aide who happens to be more corrupt than him such that a meeting with that minister comes at a cost to be paid to that joker. That is disgustingly ridiculous.
Another story from this former diplomat was concerning a different company he represented, which had won a direct tender without a Kuwaiti agent who “usually receives the share but does not do anything”. This company engages in complex technical work which no one can undertake except its highly-qualified employees.
This former diplomat had to keep going to the Immigration Department for the issuance of residencies for the company’s skilled employees. Every time his applications were rejected and those employees were forced to exit the country to one of the neighboring countries and then re-enter. This happened several times for many of the employees of that company until he (the former diplomat) submitted his resignation to the company in Kuwait.
Imagine that! The Immigration Department in Ministry of Interior refuses to give residencies to foreign experts who undertake temporary work based on high-level technical contracts, while, on the other hand, the same department issues residencies to thousands of unproductive marginal workers who are sponsored by visa traders. This issue has reached such an extent that the current ratio of Kuwaitis versus expatriates in the country is 3:1.
Isn’t this one among the tearful aspects of corruption in our country?!!
By Ali Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil