“Responsibility walks hand in hand with capacity and power,” American novelist Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881).
By Yousef Awadh Al-Azmi
IN MANY countries around the world, major companies usually trigger a clause on social responsibility and provide vital services to the country. These services could be achieved through several clauses whether health, education, scholarship or even development assets with the objective of fulfilling humanitarian and social duties towards the host country and the facilities which such companies receive to contribute to their prosperity.
Kuwait’s economy depends mainly on oil; hence, the petroleum companies in this country are among the biggest globally. However, we do not see effective contributions brought by social responsibility clauses of these companies compared to the huge support that the State provides to these entities in various aspects. This is something that baffles many.
Two or three years ago, I heard that a major petroleum company proposed a project to build an international sports stadium in the southern part of the country – in an area known as Sabah Al-Ahmad. Since that time, there have not been updates in this regard. I am left to wonder whether it was just a proposal from the company or request made by the government, or the news needed verification in the first place.
These major companies reap immense wealth from their businesses in Kuwait deservingly due to professionalism, experience and “supposed” hard work. At the same time, the taxes which these entities pay are far from being a burden.
These companies also win multi-million tenders and others billions. With all these incentives, we do not see the impact of these establishments on the society.
Imagine a company with a capital of KD30 million and the number of Kuwaitis working there does not exceed the number of fingers. When you inquire about the reason, you get unacceptable excuses. In fact, some are funny.
Such companies need to be dealt with seriously by imposing a quota for the employment of Kuwaitis, or delegating several Kuwaitis to work in them in a manner that protects the rights of everyone, or even trigger a clause on social responsibility with an objective which is beneficial to citizens.
I also have a suggestion. Given that Kuwait’s economy depends on petroleum, why not make companies operating locally donate for the establishment and management of a specialized and integrated university for petroleum science, and employ qualified members so that everyone benefits?
Why not study this idea in which there is no loser? Life is give and take where greetings get the best response, where monopoly is shunned, and where going round and round in a closed circuit is denounced.
Obligations and duties are a two-way street. The State has never disappointed these major petroleum companies, whether in the government or private sector. These companies have no excuse for their slackness in fulfilling social and humanitarian responsibilities. It is neither charity nor favor from these entities. Instead, it is their duty and the right of the State and society.