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UNDOUBTEDLY, the Minister of Finance is well aware of the suffering of a large segment of Kuwaitis because of loans, especially those in debt, as they live the worst kind of life in terms of either being imprisoned, or being issued travel bans and “seizure and habeas corpus” procedures, or the suspension of their transactions in state departments.
Unfortunately, this issue is still unresolved. This is because there are some who do not want to solve it either because of the interest obtained from it, or because of jealousy, something that makes an entry into any matter only to make it more complicated.
These people are the ones who have been misinforming the leadership, the executive authority, and the Minister of Finance, as if they present a reading that the loans exceed KD 14 billion, or they confuse personal loans that were taken because of an urgent need, with bank loans, and add to them the debts of the defunct Al-Manakh Stock Market, which are still calculated in the budgets as losses and recorded as a deficit.
In fact, for a long time, easy solutions were available to successive finance ministers, but they turned a blind eye to them. It was either because they serve the money “mafias”, or because they were involved in irregularities and corruption, and wanted to cover up the matter by pushing to reject any solution in order to show that their handling of this issue is on the right path. They thus offer contradictory advice to the leadership, even though the truth is that the amount required to solve this issue does not exceed KD 1.9 billion.
A few days ago, the Minister of Social Affairs issued a decision requiring cooperative societies to spend 50 percent of their Zakat (charity) amount for Kuwaiti debtors.
However, it stipulated the approval of the general assembly of the cooperative society. Of course the cooperative society will have its opinion, and it is mainly linked to the interests of parliamentarians and money “mafias”, so the matter is like closing the circle on those in debt.
His Excellency the Minister, in your capacity as the one responsible for the state’s finances, with your extensive authority in this regard, you can issue decisions related to the imposition on charitable funds and the collection of donations.
You can also propose a law to disburse the amount from public money and those funds, especially those who issued dud cheques to borrow but were in difficulty and against whom lawsuits were filed, and those with small debts that do not exceed KD 20,000.
As for the rest, you can reschedule it over a period of ten to twenty years, or stop the physical coercion of the debtors, especially with regard to those who are wanted for usurious interest. You know very well that this matter is prohibited by law and Sharia. Its mere practice leads the creditor who takes interest of this kind to prison.
In addition, the constitution prohibits any party or authority from restricting a citizen’s freedom except in criminal cases, forgery, embezzlement, and theft, and not specifically civil and financial disputes. Therefore, preventing a citizen from practicing his daily life and striving to secure his livelihood would mean one thing, which is that he would violate the law in order to live, even if illegally. Is that what you really want?
In all countries of the world, a citizen is not prevented from traveling abroad and returning to his country. He who issues a dud cheque is not imprisoned, except in Kuwait, which is still working based on a law that precedes the modern state, i.e. from the days of pearl diving. From that time until today, there are some who enjoy it by torturing people and even forcing them to sell their clothes.
Dear Minister of Finance, the solution is in your hands, and we say it over again – “Knowledge has come to you”, so are you working to rid people of their torment?
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times