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IT is said that there was a man who had two wives – a young woman named Hana and an old woman named Mana. Whenever he entered Hana’s room, she grabbed his beard and pulled out a white hair, saying, “It is difficult for me to see white hair invade this beautiful black beard while you are still young.”
When he enters Mana’s room, she quickly plucks a black hair from his beard and says, “It displeases me to see black hair in your beard, as you are an old man of great destiny.”
The man continued like this for a period of time, until one day he looked in the mirror and saw that his beard had been plucked out randomly and appeared uneven. It was then that he said, “Between Hana and Mana, beards are lost.”
This phrase applies to the retirees who are lost between the “Hana” of the parliamentary committee that seeks to buy its electoral balance from the pockets of these people, and the “Mana” of the government agency that boasted of “big profits” achieved by the social security institution, but when orders came from His Highness the Crown Prince to pay the profits to the retirees, it “blushed” and fell down.
When the matter went to the National Assembly in an extraordinary session, the Minister of Finance Abdul Wahab Al-Rasheed revealed the truth by saying, “The social security institution suffers from an actuarial deficit of about KD 24 billion. Therefore, how do we today distribute a grant out of nowhere? If we remove the issue of raising the retirement age, we will not be able to pay the grant, as the matter is linked to each other.”
There is no doubt that the retirees fell victim to the populism that the government and the parliament began to practice alike, as if the former were competing with the latter to win the votes of the electorate, forgetting its responsibility of running the country.
It is the government’s duty to open up the political leadership with everything big and small, and not to deceive with an issue of this kind that concerns a large segment of citizens who are grieving daily with the fire of the need to pay liabilities that they have from a salary that is eroding as a result of the global inflation that casts its shadow on Kuwait, while the responsible entity has no solution to this issue.
On the other hand, it seems that the amount the government will pay with its right hand will be taken from the retirees with its left hand by raising the retirement age, which it had lowered under the pressure of parliamentary populism years ago.
The knights of that proposal were able to win another parliamentary session, while the rate of dependence on expatriate workers increased in various government sectors due to the vacuum left by the new retirees. It would have been better to continue to retire at 64 years of age because the employee is still at its prime.
This is how the Gulf states, France, Britain, Norway, Finland and other countries have raised the retirement age to even 70 years, as a result of the scarcity of manpower. On the other hand in Kuwait, because things are going according to the mood and interests of the MPs, and in front of the government’s inability, this important matter turns into a means of benefit. The retirement age is raised and reduced, while the country always pays the price.
This whirlpool has revealed a common fraud against the retired members of the government and the National Assembly, which indicates the political, economic and social floundering of the two authorities that pluck Kuwait’s beard with their absurd adventures.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times