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THIS is an opportunity par excellence despite the global crisis that is overshadowing the economies of all countries. Those who fail to grasp it will remain on the sidewalk, lamenting about the lost opportunity and accumulating losses.
Hence, we say frankly, “The government today has a historic opportunity at hand. If it fails to grasp it, it will lose, just like its predecessors”.
A common notion among majority of the people in this country is that Kuwait is a country that missed several great opportunities because its executive authority succumbed to loud voices of forces that place bets at the expense of the people and the future of this country at a time when it was vital for the government to exercise its role without looking over its shoulders.
This is exactly what happened in the previous governments in terms of losing opportunities, such as the opportunity that presented itself in terms of the northern oil fields and was lost after bowing to the criticism of some MPs who claimed the matter is a process of looting. This had rendered the state to lose more than $100 billion since 2005, and about 20,000 jobs, as well as a solid foundation in the process of creating wealth for the next generations.
The same happened with the “Dow Chemical” project, which fell in a similar trap and later caused the state to pay a huge financial price after it caved in to those who fought hard against it. The state had to pay fines of more than $2 billion. That day, the individuals who were responsible for this financial loss had washed their hands off the matter. In fact, they went on to portray themselves as defenders of the public funds. All this was happening while they were looting from the flesh of the state in a manner that was never witnessed before in the history of nations.
Throughout these episodes, the influential and obstructionists sought recourse to readymade studies that were tailored in the darkest nights to serve their objectives only and were not based on any scientific rationale. In fact, its tailors sought to defame anyone who worked in the interest of the nation, calling them traitors, corrupt and squanderers.
Currently, Kuwait has an excellent international credit rating. It has the opportunity to borrow at very low interest rates for long term payment. It can also cushion its shares, the market values of which have declined. All this can be achieved by financing through the public debt law which the government should not pass up if it really wants to work on increasing the national wealth.
It should not be satisfied with borrowing just KD 20 billion; it should seek even KD 40 billion or 50 billion to either invest in purchasing local, regional and international assets by buying shares of successful companies or real estate and others, or increase its foreign investments.
In this regard, the executive authority should not succumb to voices of pessimists and pseudo-economists who portray themselves as philosophers of the time.
The government should yield to the voices of those who claim this wealth may go to so and so. In fact, we call upon His Highness the Prime Minister and the entire government, as well as the governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait, to stand firm in their position, pass the national debt law, raise the national debt ceiling, and avoid paying attention to voices of obstructionists — either the MPs or influential people motivated by their own interests.
Kuwait will not be alone in this regard, as both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates precede it in this regard. Currently there are several countries in the world that followed this path and started accumulating more wealth after grasping this opportunity. They did not subject to any dissonant voices on the ground, even in parliaments which are much stronger than our Parliament.
Any hesitation or subjection to parliamentary intimidation, or fabricated and unfounded reports, or fear of trolling in social media aimed at achieving electoral gains and self-interests, would mean passing up this great opportunity that comes perhaps once every 100 years. If missed, the government would be losing a great chance to positively serve the welfare of this nation and its people.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times