‘How can we overcome our pending challenges’
OUR country seems to be the only one in the region that is facing some hard problems for which there seems to be no solutions other than leaving them to time. This is the pattern that Kuwait has been practicing for more than ten years. It has been ignoring important matters that touch our basic daily lives, eventually leading to the collapse of our infrastructure.
We are trying to compare our country’s performance to that of our Gulf neighbors and our partners in the Arab council. Such examples are live and occurring currently in other GCC countries, which are Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Let us take education as an example.
In the Davos Quality of Education Index for 2021, the top four countries in the Arab world are Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Kuwait is ranked eighth after Egypt, Mauritania, and Algeria. Our schools are still closed, and there is no sign or indication from the government about the opening dates. On the other hand, the schools in our neighboring countries are open and running as usual. Both parents and pupils seem lost, while the government is not offering any communication or direction.
The other issue in which we are behind is not knowing yet how to handle the COVID-19 crisis other than imposing curfew and increasing its hours. There is no sign of any improvements in the number of COVID-19 cases which is almost constant on a daily basis. Daily statistics are being announced but without a single comment about when the curfew will be lifted. So we all have no choice but to refer to social media and the various speculations as our source of news. Life in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar seems normal, and in Saudi Arabia, the curfew hours are lesser in comparison to us.
There is no way we can compare ourselves as much as we try to find a single excuse as to why we are behind these countries. For how long will this last? What wrong did we do as a nation to be behind to this extent? Is it lack of governmental guidance, lack of objectives or the trend of letting each department in the government do as it wishes? The ministers know they cannot last for more than two years due to which their priority becomes meeting the needs and requirements of their relatives, friends and members of the parliament. Lack of coordinated objectives in our government led us to become as we are now – lost in every field and unable to compete and be like the rest of the GCC countries. In fact, we are far behind them. Lastly, we must highlight the mess we put ourselves in regarding the reward for the frontline workers and the way to reward them.
In this regard, the government has put itself in a real mess. It is rewarding more than 200,000 employees with about KD 500,000 million or half a billion dinars at a time when we are running short of cash. Can anyone imagine such a huge amount of cash when we are short of it and have to borrow from outside? The government just did not know what to do and left the issue of rewarding the frontline workers to each minister to do as they wish. Here is our fault … there is simply no clear objective and no definite figure in terms of the total amount of the reward. Our government wants to survive and does not care what it takes, even if we rank at the bottom in every field and for years to come… as long as it survives year after year.
By Kamel Al-Harami Independent Oil Analyst