FOR the third time in less than two years, international credit institutions have lowered Kuwait’s credit rating. For the second time in two years, the local economy has shrunk by a sharp rate, reaching 9.9 percent last year.
The concerned government did nothing to stop this economic deterioration that affects all aspects of life in the country. It seems as though what is happening does not concern Kuwait, its people and its economy.
The credit rating process is related to the state’s financial position, investments, the private sector, and the purchasing power of the national currency. Therefore, taking action to confront this continuous decline is an urgent necessity.
The executive authority must bear its responsibility. It has many tools and powers to address the imbalance. The legislative authority is also concerned with this matter but it does not bear the responsibility on the same level as the government, which invokes flimsy excuses such as the failure of the National Assembly to allow it to take reform measures.
How did this government, which has been holding on to such excuses, manage to paralyze the National Assembly when interpellations increased? How was it able to pass the laws it wanted with an open game, while standing on the hill and watching the fire when it finds that the matter does not concern it?
Isn’t the country’s credit and sovereign rating one of the core aspects of its powers? It needs to make sure its continued decline does not rise to the level of crime, for which no one else will be held responsible. Indeed, no one remembers what MP Muhammad Mutair or Obaid Al-Wasmi or some other MPs said in this regard.
Today we are facing one of the worst stages in the country’s economic management. This is because His Highness the Prime Minister, who is morally upright, left matters in the hands of the ministers. They committed shortcomings more than once, and some of them took matters as personal affairs.
For instance, the decisions taken by the Minister of Health triggered a maze of confusion. The Minister of Commerce, who was disturbed by an editorial piece, refused to respond to the calls to clarify the ambiguity in his conflicting statements.
Can we really address a major crisis similar to the one we are experiencing today?
As for the Minister of Finance, who is more concerned with financial affairs than others, he came out to us a few days ago with one of the most bizarre statements.
He stated, “The financial position of the State of Kuwait is very strong because it is fully supported by the future generations reserve fund. Despite this, the Kuwaiti economy is in dire need of a financial reform process in order to treat its structural imbalances.”
Here we ask His Excellency the minister – Who is responsible for the state’s finances? Isn’t it the government as a whole, particularly your Excellency the Minister of Finance? This means, aren’t you the first one to be responsible for setting reform plans? Or are you waiting for financial reform to descend upon you from the sky?
Did the drop in oil prices negatively impact only Kuwait or also on the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries? Did the COVID-19 pandemic hit Kuwait alone? If not, then how did the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even Bahrain manage to benefit from the drop in oil prices, and from negative repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on its economies, let alone their ability to strengthen their sovereign financial position, and even increase their national wealth?
The government can remedy all these imbalances, and initiate a radical reform plan, if it wants to do so, through necessary decrees, either with the public debt law or by fixing the investment defect that made Kuwait a repulsive state.
It is also able to impose all this on the National Assembly; and if the Parliament refuses, it can dissolve it and shut it down, and no one will regret it.
The Constitution permits such a measure … Democracy is the basis of economic prosperity if it has political stability … But adventurism, indifference, and reliance on the good reputation and high morals of His Highness the Prime Minister are not just sufficient to run the country.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times