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UNDOUBTEDLY, it is agonizing for Kuwaiti retirees who are enduring the pain of being caught between the parliamentary-governmental disputes and the Cabinet’s failure to pay the grants awarded to them. The Cabinet instead is using this issue as a tool to exert pressure on the National Assembly, while the latter is investing this issue for electoral purposes.
Actually, the government from the start refrained from exercising its powers and made matters worse when it accompanied its failure with its resignation, which has not been decided yet.
Naturally, the retirees, numbering about 140,000, are feeling very disappointed. They have seen how the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad increased the pension of retirees by decree, and the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain Prince Salman bin Hamad issued an order to increase the pension of Bahraini retirees retroactively from the beginning of the year 2021 until this April. In these two countries, the governments did not invoke the democracy that we brag about in Kuwait, but the deserving ones received an increase and a generous grant without give and take.
With a single decree, millions were granted, while in our country the retired person does not receive the annual bonus until after many “wishes” and fictitious battles on his account.
The grant of KD 3,000 has entered a dark tunnel. No one knows when it will see the light as long as the mentality of the country is “We are different … We are a democratic country”.
Democracy neither fed the retirees nor did them justice. In fact, it neither did justice to Kuwait and the public funds, which turned out to be like the den of Ali Baba and thousands of corrupt people, nor facilitate the implementation of any development project, except after the cost had reached astronomical figures, as the implementation would otherwise remain suspended until certain executives or MPs are satisfied with their shares in it.
There are many examples of this, starting with the Kuwait Airport project. Even though the declared cost amounted to $4.36 billion, it is expected to reach $10 billion. On the other hand, for the largest Dubai airport, which is one of the most active airports in the world, the cost was $1.2 billion.
As for the university city project in Shadadiya, it was approved in 1986. Until today, only 54 percent of it has been completed. The heresy of “change orders”, which is a pure Kuwaiti invention, raised the cost to several billions, not to mention the deal of the Eurofighter, which cost the state about nine billion dollars, and the cost of maintenance alone will reach 10 billion. The manufacturer sold twice the number of planes bought by Kuwait to neighboring countries at about five billion dollars.
This plundering of the living flesh of public funds is caused by the democracy of selective accountability. This means the pensioners’ grant crisis will continue because none of the MPs or ministers will benefit from it, after it came by order of His Highness the Crown Prince. For this reason, they deliberately obstruct it either with the old-new argument of the actuarial deficit or on the grounds that the parliament did not agree to amend the law. If they exhaust all the excuses, they then say the state’s financial deficit does not allow such spending.
Retirees are not the only victims of democracy, but the entire Kuwaiti people, after its advocates took up the bad side through insults, inciting strife, transgression against honor, and looting of public funds.
This is why these people entrench a democracy of “eating air,” and not the democracy of reassurance and improved livelihood. This is what makes our people look at what is happening in Bahrain and Qatar with agony, while the corrupt advocate that, “Kuwait is different, and may it continue to be like that.”
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times