TO begin with, we hope that His Highness the Prime Minister will have the time and patience to contemplate these lines, and not pay attention to the profiteers who toy with minds in a bid to serve their own interests.
Your Highness, the budget deficit will not be covered if remedying it continues in the current manner or by waiting for the price of a barrel of oil to return to the level of $85 or more.
However, there are many things that can cover this deficit and stop the confusion, as well as keep us away from the fear of the future in light of the continuous waste of public money on matters that have become a source of enrichment, but are forbidden both nationally and legally.
All the justifications for not touching the citizen’s pocket are not realistic. This is due to the fact that this approach benefits some, while about 90 percent of Kuwaitis pay the price for it, either in food subsidies, which is a subsidy for items that no one even thought of such as salmon fillet, rice, sugar, “Abu Klass cheese”, and others.
In addition to that, the wastage of electricity and water, which also benefits the wealthy people who leave their palaces shining bright both day and night, and waste water in a way that one would think the Amazon, Euphrates, Tigris, and Nile rivers flow into Kuwait, when in reality, it is the poorest country in the world in terms of water.
Protecting the citizen’s pocket should not be done by dispensing lots of medicines or allowing electoral overseas treatment abroad, or reducing the rations, which are supposed to be confined only to the poor, and not given to all Kuwaitis, especially those who profit from them by selling them in the black market, smuggling them abroad, or those who sell them via bids to the state.
There is no doubt that the suspension of some infrastructure projects and other productive projects further burdens the Kuwaiti market. The random employment in ministries and government institutions, which made the first chapter of the budget blow up to an unreasonable degree, is caused by the absence of proper planning to utilize graduates and Kuwaiti manpower.
Also, the vast areas of untapped land can be turned into industrial areas if the state makes good investment. In addition, the state properties in a number of areas such as Sharq, Shuwaikh, Fahaheel, Mina Abdullah, Amghara and others can be rented out by the state at low prices, knowing that its returns are enormous.
Therefore, why not sell it to the current investors at a ten-year payment plan, and mortgage its sukuk (bond) with its guarantee when it can generate more than KD 30 billion? Then borrow with those sukuk, use part of that money in the sovereign investment of the state, and cover the budget deficit. At the same time, restructure the government spending on the basis of investing in it and not wasting it.
There is a lot that can be presented to your government, but we will not burden your Highness more because we know that you are preoccupied with protocol issues. We will hence come again next time with matters that would help the government to rationalize spending, as well as investments to get out of the tunnel that successive governments, including yours, pushed the country into as a result of the policy of appeasement and false welfare which brought nothing but losses and budget deficits.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times