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THE National Assembly held a session to liberate the “retirees’ grant”, which has turned into a blackmail card between the government whose prime minister seeks to impose a fait accompli after the “vote of non-cooperation” and his pending resignation, and the MPs who seek to capitalize on the matter to ensure their survival in the event of early elections.
The retirees are held hostage between the contenders to determine who benefits from the trade-off of their grant for personal interests. The public money is the price of this conflict that made them hostage, from which the resigned government cut some, and the MPs cut some more. Meanwhile, Kuwait burns more in the fire of political, economic and living stagnation.
The ransom expected to be paid in the soon-to-be held session is KD 500 million on an annual basis. This goes to the Public Institution for Social Security in kind or cash to fill the actuarial deficit, which the institution, because of successive governments, have long since highlighted about.
The National Assembly has been locking the Public Debt Law for three years by not approving it. The government on the other hand uses it as an excuse to disrupt everything in the country until it gets approved, which led to an economic stagnation that Kuwait had never experienced before.
As the government continues to cry regarding the increasing lack of liquidity to cover expenses, including the retirement grant, Kuwaiti loans, gifts and grants continue to be distributed throughout the world.
According to official statistics announced by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, there are 107 countries benefiting from the fund currently through a total of 1,015 loans. Some of these loans are deposits in the banks of a number of countries, some others are for development projects that are under implementation, and the rest are allocated for technical assistance.
We cannot help but wonder what technical assistance Kuwait provides to countries that are more advanced than us in the field of management, especially in financial aspects, unless it is to help educate corruption in those countries after its stench has contaminated the entire global atmosphere.
On the other hand, it came as a surprise that in Kuwait, which paid all this amount, its Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled announced about three months ago to “allow the governorates to accept gifts and donations in cash and in kind provided by individuals and Kuwaiti governmental and non-governmental agencies, or from friendly countries for establishing and developing projects, or improving services within each governorate”.
The Prime Minister thus applies the Gulf proverb – Adhari freshwater spring that quenches the thirst of those who are far from it and not those who are near. Instead of accepting external gifts and grants, why don’t the government and its development institutions spend part of their money on internal projects?
Instead of the billions of deposits and government gifts – other than what KFAED pays – to some countries including the $700 million that went to the Palestinians who continue to insult us day and night, or the $ 4 million to improve the cultivation and production of date palms in Iraq when our palm trees are dying while standing, why not use that money locally?!
For example, it is strange that Kuwait offers KD 6 million to expand a road in Gambia when the roads in Kuwait need to be paved due to potholes and poor asphalt, and at a time when the country lacks an entertainment city, which is the simplest source of recreational services for the public.
The country also lacks any kind of smart cities, but the government announced granting loans and grants amounting to about $750 million to Pakistan to build smart cities, banks and a hydrogen factory!
Therefore, doesn’t Kuwait deserve to have a share for internal development among 1,103 external projects, or to allocate one loan from among 204 loans to improve the conditions of retirees and services, or to deduct part of it to save those insolvent from loans, who number about 80,000 citizens who are subject to arrests and travel ban?
Can these people in debt not be considered among the countries that have been granted financial aid and loans, which amounted to 17 foreign grants, so that the government would relieve them of their suffering?
When there is a government that lacks the ability to make decisions and its aspirations differ from those of the people, Kuwait’s bleak picture of underdeveloped services and infrastructure, and conflicts will prevail. This is due to the fact that each one seeks to pull the blanket towards his personal interests, and is not concerned if the blanket of the homeland is torn.
Our government needs to practice the popular proverb – Charity begins at home.
Indeed, we suffer from a declared deficit, according to what the government says, which at the same time is talking about a surplus in oil revenues expected to reach about KD 7.5 billion.
The government is stingy to its own people but generous to others. It is like saying to all the people – “May you die of your rage”.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times