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IT is like hatching an egg but without any chick coming out of it. This is how we can describe the decision of the Minister of Commerce and Industry regarding licensing some activities even though they have no headquarters.
In many countries of the world, especially those seeking to attract investments and capital, the investor, not only the citizen but even the foreigner, does not need a headquarter for his or her establishment. Instead, the address of the activity is the same address of the attorney authorized to complete the procedure for issuing the license.
Therefore, the activities permitted by the ministerial decision are not sufficient. This is due to the fact that they do not lead to attracting investment. Instead, it is more like a license to practice the profession that is issued by the authorities concerned with the tallying of workers in the countries of the world. Kuwait needs to first work on liberating investment from the long documentary cycle, and secondly, there should be a vision to attract businesses into the country.
For decades, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s concern was to increase commodity subsidies for citizens. This happened sometimes by adding cheese, salmon fillet and tea. However, when it comes to thinking of how to get the country out of the bottle of monopoly and activate commercial activities, this matter is not on its agenda at all.
Nonetheless, if the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is under the influence of some opinions whose owners do not see more than their noses, then the Ministry of Finance did not take any step towards activating its role in promoting the diversification of national income. It instead contented itself with either fighting the increase in employee salaries, or drawing up a budget that is devoid of any step that would generate capital for the country.
In all countries of the world, when the B.O.T. system is used, the agreement is with the state, and not with officials whose only concern is jealousy and seeking to impede people’s businesses, as is the case in Kuwait where the practices of the government and official institutions are characterized by much shortsightedness.
For example, the Public Authority for Industry resorted to increasing the fees of the land granted to industrialists, and imposing new conditions on them, bearing in mind that industry is one of the pillars of the renaissance of any country.
If there was a serious vision to push investors into this sector, it would have been similar to what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, and other countries did by giving this sector the utmost importance, in addition to revitalizing work in the food security sector.
In all international reports, Kuwait is seen as repelling investment, while in the Emirate of Dubai alone, about five billion dollars entered in the year 2021 in the form of investments owing to the flexible laws issued by the United Arab Emirates. The Emirate was thus able to overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, what did Kuwait do? The ministries increased the documentary cycle. Any establishment that needs a loan or issuance of even work visas requires a statement from Kuwait Municipality and the Public Authority for Manpower, as well as a “certificate of specification”, as if it builds facilities on the plot every week.
All this only leads to impeding people’s business and restricting them, and further expelling both local and foreign investors, while other Gulf countries are preceding us by light years. All the efforts that we put in are adding up to zero.
All that remains to be said is that the state needs a change in its business, financial and economic mentality, and decisions in general. This can only be done through innovative work as several Gulf countries have done. For this, we say to the Minister of Commerce and Industry – “Knowledge has come to you” from other countries so what are you going to do?
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times