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INDIVIDUALS and their behavior are what make up the state. This means that, if one of them fails to manage itself, the problem is in the practices of those in the executive management, who have the ability to develop and rise, that urge people to laziness. Therefore, what Kuwait has been experiencing for nearly 60 years is not democracy in the proper sense, but rather is part of it, because it was limited to freedom of opinion and expression without limits, while economic democracy was rendered in a remote place, despite being the basis of it. The experience of the invasion, occupation and liberation was a lesson that can be learned from.
Considering the benefits achieved by the Kuwaitis when they relied on themselves and were able to manage their country despite the difficulties, what we see today is the opposite. This is especially in the last stage after the results of the recent elections, which were conducive to increase the level of controversy, especially after the difficult birth of the government, and the imbalance that afflicted it at the beginning of its tenure, either in terms of the resignation of two ministers, or the attachment of the sovereign wealth fund to the minister of State for Economic Affairs and Investment instead of the minister of Finance, or the absence of realistic plans to manage development projects. All these factors have led to an increase in the noise that does not lead to a result.
Kuwaitis hear the noise, but to this day they have not seen the outcome. Even light industry has been absent from the agendas of successive governments, as well as food security. While many observers and experts urge for allocating part of the sovereign money for enhancing investment within the state, encouraging individual initiative, and maximizing the role of the private sector, which is the backbone of any economy, it has turned into a parasite that lives on the cake of government projects that go to some companies, as a result of improvised decisions. There is no doubt that leaving things as they are means more financial, economic and social crises. This is because a state that cares for its citizens from cradle to grave can neither continue forever nor rely on a single source of income, which is oil, whose prices keep fluctuating. If it goes up, we would live in prosperity for a while, and if it falls, we would suffer from various crises that will not end with the prices going up once again.
Many countries around the world, especially oil producing ones, do not depend on a single income. They instead seek to diversify sources, and resort to strengthening local industries, whether light or heavy. Some of them have begun to reduce dependence on oil by about 90 percent, as is the case in Norway and the Emirates, specifically Dubai. On the other hand, dependence on oil has increased in Kuwait to more than 93 percent, which means that the deficit is so large that it is necessary to warn about its seriousness. This is the result of the incorrect practices in the executive administration of the state, or in the wrong visions adopted by some institutions, such as the smallmedium projects that represented a glimmer of hope for the Kuwaiti youth, but vanished. Some of them were taken to prison because governments did not understand the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of supporting the owners of small projects, it worked to put obstacles in their path. As published, about 75 percent of the budget of this sector goes either on the transportation of officials and their phones, or on personal benefits. In other countries that are richer than Kuwait, electricity, medical and educational sectors, and other institutions have been privatized, because they have realized that the role of the state is not only care, but also to ensure the optimization of all sectors. They know that if these sectors continue to be under the government, they will be a source of corruption, especially in Kuwait where a parliamentarian can disrupt the entire government just because the minister did not appoint his electoral key to a certain position, or where a minister is under the illusion that the ministry and its affiliated institutions are like a private farm with which he can do whatever he wants. That is why we were not surprised by the report published by the prestigious Bloomberg agency recently, in which it stated that the Kuwaiti sovereign fund has become paralyzed, and the modern funds of the region are now outperforming it. What Kuwait needs are a rational economic decision, strength in implementation, and an administration that distinguishes between what the people and representatives demand and the capabilities of the government, and what the state can be in the future in terms of strength and stability.
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By Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times
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