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Saturday , February 22 2020

Don’t worry, Maryam, the truth is always bitter

Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

ACTING based on the principle of hold-and-handcuff-him, the MPs in the National Assembly are working towards exploiting the remaining part of the current term for electoral accomplishments or heroism. This is why they deliberately escalated the issue against the Minister of Finance after they realized that the government was not ready to sacrifice its ministers in the first test.

However, the honorable lawmakers missed the target this time around, because their campaign against Minister Maryam Al-Aqeel indicates frivolity, and not that national responsibility that the national legislators should assume. Al-Aqeel talked about the financial situation of Kuwait with transparency and frankness.

They are striving to clamp down on every logical voice cautioning against the country’s fate if the frivolous waste continues, because what she said contradicts the desires of the lawmakers who are facing electoral battles with public fund and national interest. They ignore the facts contained in the reports of reputable international and local institutions on a daily basis. Those people consider the truth according to a popular adage – “As someone who is authorized in Malta”

Apparently, the Minister of Finance understands very well that her statement is a reality and it is not meant to appease people, because some of its aspects affect the interests of the nominees and a segment of the society. She can’t be different from all the finance ministers across the world in her position, or even the accountants who are most hated by people especially other employees in their companies. It is due to the nature of their job that forces them to save for sustainability, and prevent deficit or deal with it in case the budget has recorded an aspect of it. It means the minister must say the truth irrespective of how bitter it is.

The lawmakers in Kuwait neglected a whole lot of legislations without discussing them. They include, but not limited to, removal of subsidies which have been costing the country KD 7 billion annually or the public loan law that should have been approved many years back. They neglected it for their personal battles, settling scores with ministers for refusing to push their transactions through and several other parochial interests that hurt vast majority of citizens.

The laws concerning tenders and commitments require update and transparency to ensure the national treasury is not burdened by the current appeasement. Citizens end up bearing the brunt of the corruption that has reached the level of costing the country twofold or manifold of the actual cost through variation orders.

At this juncture, it will be lovely if the concerned authorities benefit from the review carried out by Saudi Arabia through which it discovered that all projects executed from 1980 until a few years back contained massive wastage in the form of bribes and gratifications of around 10-15 percent of the general budget. This is why the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman changed the system relating to projects.

For many years now, several local and international institutions have been chipping in pieces of advice to impose certain taxes and enact laws in that regard. However, instead of working towards that, the lawmakers struggled to increase the rate of state’s unproductive economy through citizen-centered laws that are not suitable for the current financial situation. It is one of the strangest things facing countries like Kuwait. It means absence of national responsibility among the concerned officials in legislation, or at least to realize the dangers involved in continuing with the wasteful spending.

We urge the Minister of Finance to continue raising the alarm without fearing the threats that come from the MPs. We also appeal the government to avoid slacking in defending her – at least not in form of striking behind-the-scene deals with the lawmakers. This is because whenever those people find a loophole, they are capable of exploiting it for elections, just like fire that is never satisfied.

For this reason, the government should block the channels of public-fund exploitation and interest for electoral benefit. The lawmakers should be left to fund their electoral campaigns from their personal purse rather than the public fund.

We have seen what the hold-and-handcuff-him principle did to the ministers. It paralyzed the country and weakened the executive authority, and the citizens continue to pay heavily for these adventures that increase financial burdens and budget deficit. This is what should not happen to Kuwait.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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