THE recent speech of His Highness the Prime Minister seems to have brought joy to the hearts of the people of this country who are looking for an outlet to breathe a sigh of hope in the face of the strangulation of the economy they have been enduring.
However, there is nothing new in the content. It is a copy of the speeches of former prime ministers, perhaps with a slightly higher caliber, but in the end, it remains a word we have been hearing for the past five decades, while nothing has changed on the ground.
The government revolves in a vicious circle pushed by the National Assembly at the beginning of each new legislative term. It is not able to free itself from it, either because of “the butterflies in the stomach of some ministers”, or for fear of interpellation, which has become like a political guillotine for ministers… hence, nothing gets done.
Given that the state is the decision of personalities who realize what progress and development mean, and work on at least preserving what was previously achieved, learning from others and following their example is not a blameworthy thing.
What we are facing today is almost similar to the stage experienced in Greece, Egypt, Britain, and other countries. Their leaders took the initiative to issue temporary painful decisions in a bid to protect the interests of the majority of the people.
In those countries, heads of government did not ask state officials to draw up work programs for their departments. Rather, they sought the help of seasoned experts who set a general framework to remedy the imbalances the country was facing.
The Egyptian political leadership did not hesitate to float the pound and raise the price of the loaf. However, it went on to provide many concessions to protect low-income people.
Greece performed surgery to eradicate the disease through a large austerity plan. It thus reduced the public debt to about eight percent initially. After less than five years, it was able to overcome its financial difficulties.
Britain dealt with the worst recession in 40 years by pumping 30 billion pounds into its markets, and adjusting its financial plans to suit the difficult circumstances.
Unfortunately, Kuwait did not benefit from all these experiences, as its governments became jittery because of the shouts of half-educated MPs, economically and politically, who aim to extract more gains at the expense of the state and its people.
These MPs inflicted huge losses on the country, either through the “Dow Chemical” project, or the North Oil Fields, when the government was terrified at the time of the threat of an MP who said, “The project will only pass over my body”, and this led to the loss of about $150 billion, and about 20,000 jobs.
On the other hand, it is unfortunate for the Kuwaitis that the project went to Saudi Arabia, which reaped huge profits from it, the first of which was the rise in the company’s share price from about six dollars to about 40 dollars, as well as the rate of national manpower absorbed in the project.
Unfortunately, our governments do not even learn from self-lessons. At a time when a backward political current imposed its vision on its society through the anti-co-education law, and cost the state, and is still costing the state, hundreds of millions of dinars annually, the same current was also able to impose the country’s closure to foreign investors through laws that have been abandoned by all countries of the world. Perhaps even the Taliban will not adopt such laws, despite being desperate to open up its economy. Every day these people come out with proposals for laws that are merely eccentric.
Here we ask His Highness the Prime Minister – Is this the awaited Kuwait? Or will this legislative network turn the country into a global financial and commercial hub? Will a government that trembles at the cry of an MP be able to hold an employee backed by an electoral key accountable, or those who promote the saying – “His is our own, take care of him”, or stop the appointment of 15 to 30 secretaries for each MP?
Reform begins with a firm decision that addresses all the imbalances caused by these laws, either in developing education and getting rid of the coeducation ban, or amending the nationality and residency law, as well as the investment law that repels domestic capital followed by the foreign capital.
It would be nice for Your Highness to listen to the majority of people of this country who chant day and night – “If the National Assembly is obstructing the country’s development, then dissolve it, or just shut it down”. Formal democracy will never be more precious than Kuwait. The freedom to insult and throw accusations is not more important than the future of the nation’s youth who have started migrating abroad in search of opportunities that are being wasted in their country.
All this is because the government has nothing but speeches that neither avail nor nourish hunger. Rather, it is a slow killing of ambitions and aspirations, a waste of time, and perhaps an act of toying with the fate of the nation.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times