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DRIVEN by the Russian war on Ukraine, the oil prices have soared to unexpected levels. This is good news for the oil producing countries, which will benefit from the financial abundance by either strengthening their sovereign assets or launching development projects, which were disrupted by the general closure during the COVID-19 pandemic that had passed over Kuwait without leaving any positive effect because the governments of Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled had failed to take advantage of that opportunity.
However, new opportunities have emerged today. They seem even more profitable now than it was during the pandemic.
It is true that the prices of food items and general commodities have risen. We are therefore spending more money on them. However, it is not an increase that would swallow up all financial reserves. Rather, the price rise remains within the expected levels.
Oil prices, which represent the main source of income for Kuwait, are expected to continue to rise, which means more income that must be converted into profitable investments, and ensure a consolidation of the sovereign assets both abroad and at home.
In the last four years, Kuwait recorded the highest financial deficit in its history. The four governments of Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid had put their bets on the Public Debt Law as a savior, while the National Assembly considered the bill as a scarecrow to blackmail the government, which quickly acquiesced time after time until it reached the point of abandoning all its powers, and yet did not get anything from the parliament.
Regarding this government weakness, His Highness the Prime Minister argues that he does not agree with the government’s proposals, which have the thread and needle in its hands, and that the parliament has no role other than oversight and alerting to errors. As for how the sovereign assets are managed, this is their concern and they must take advantage of all opportunities that are available to them to the fullest extent.
We remember how the oil prices fell by a large percentage during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how countries started storing more of oil to such an extent that some American companies announced their willingness to pay money to those who took the surplus they had. However, within two days, the prices began to rise.
There is no doubt that the matter needs a firm will and decision. The former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher saved her country economically without the intervention of Queen Elizabeth or the royal palace, as did Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad in the rescue of Qatar, as well as the Saudi Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad bin Salman in Saudi Arabia. The same applies to the two sheikhs – Mohammed bin Rashid and Mohammed bin Zayed. All of them moved their countries to the ranks of developed countries, and provided them with reliable sovereign assets.
On the other hand, Kuwait was regressing at all levels, and its financial crisis was intensifying. This is because our “wise” government was distracted by secondary matters and devoted itself to conflicting with the MPs, despite the fact that the core of its powers is to work on ensuring security and stability, enhancing financial reassurance, providing a good climate for investment, and pushing the wheel of development and the economy to turn. Instead of focusing on all this, the government threw the matter at the National Assembly, whose duty is to legislate and supervise, and not implement.
We have repeatedly said – If the obstacle is from the legislative authority, then the Council of Ministers must issue a letter of non-cooperation, which will immediately trigger the dissolution of the parliament. And if the government is the problem, then His Highness the Prime Minister should submit his resignation so that someone better than him can be assigned to run the executive authority and save the country from this whirlpool.
Today, the government has a historic opportunity to prove its seriousness and ability to work, and achieve what it has been unable to achieve in the past three years, as well as live up to the expectations of the political leadership and the people, so that we do not reach the conviction that beating the dead is forbidden, but honoring the dead is through burial.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times