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Sunday , January 29 2023

Kuwait’s population of a million with billion problems

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IN a video clip that was trending on social media, a retired Kuwaiti consultant says, “We are a million people, and we have billion problems.” This is the truth that everyone must acknowledge, instead of hiding behind flimsy justifications. It is the result of the democracy that the Kuwaiti people have accepted.
The staunchest enemies of democracy are those who seek to portray it as “say what you want and we do what we want,” or those who make it a source of domination and corruption of the state’s interests.


Unfortunately, such people have prevailed in the past decades until Kuwait became a factory of crises that piled up without solutions. It is capable of solving its challenges in the simplest way, starting with education – a sector where we see disaster on a daily basis – or health – a sector that is in dire need for someone to treat it even though what is spent on it exceeds what many coun-tries spend. As for the infrastructure, “no comment.” Yes, there are a million Kuwaiti citizens in a country that has all the financial and service capabilities, laws, government and national assem-bly. Yet, it could not solve the Bedoun issue, and now their population has reached tens of thou-sands, rendering this issue a headache in international forums. While their population continues to grow, our people are still divided between supporters and opponents, and the concerned au-thorities do not move a finger.


Our country was once an icon of progress in the region but today, the deliberate closure is al-most choking it, as the hotels are almost empty, and the five airports receive only a few thou-sand passengers. On the other hand, an airport in Qatar or the Emirates witnesses more than a hundred million passengers annually.
No one enters Kuwait except the “fortunate” ones, because human traffickers do not want to open up Kuwait to people lest they incur huge financial losses.
Kuwait has financial wealth, which, if properly utilized for development, can turn our country in-to an attractive investment destination for investors from all corners of the earth within a few years.


However, “squint of the eye” and envy almost destroyed all the economic and financial achievements that were achieved over four decades, that is, from the time of independence to after the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Even consumer loans provided to citizens by the banking system, including the Central Bank, has turned into a daily problem that has become a burden on tens of thousands of families, either because of their inability to pay, or as a natural result of the criminalization of dud cheques, which is considered a civil debt in the entire globe but is still regarded in Kuwait as a crime pun-ishable by imprisonment, even when it was issued under pressure by the creditors.


There are many solutions to the problems that Kuwait suffers from, provided there is a will to pursue it, or a government whose accounts do not differ from those of citizens, or a National As-sembly that is well aware of its role instead of being more like a battlefield for personal confron-tations.
It is not possible to remain silent about what the country is suffering from, irrespective of whether it is in housing, debt and unemployment. These are problems that have existed for decades, and all successive governments have known about them.
They were included in all of its work programs but solving them turned into a rare endeavor to pursue. We therefore remain a country of a million people and a billion problems until Allah’s word comes to pass.


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