Optimize Kuwait wealth, fix business atmosphere

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KUWAIT CITY, Aug 12: The dimensions of the leadership’s strategy towards a comprehensive developmental transformation to achieve an integrated renaissance in all fields continue to unfold. Today’s article highlights the starting point for the political leadership to launch reforms. The first step is to fully utilize national capabilities, materials and human resources on one hand; and on the other hand, improving the business environment by localizing capital, easing procedures for entrepreneurs, revitalizing leisure activities and tourist attractions to stop the ‘mass migration’ of citizens and expatriates during holidays. In this context, reliable sources confirmed that the higher decision making circles deliberated on the issue of wasting public money; while reviewing everything that transpired in previous years like the questionable appointments and corruption, how such malpractices affected the rights of people and the operations of institutions, and how they made the country fall into the trap of the game of personal interests.

■ Around 400,000 citizens fly abroad during holidays and festivals due to the absence of recreational activities and tourist attractions here
■ Stop ‘mass migration’ during holidays
■ Closing public beaches to the people is a negative phenomenon that some have created, even though they are State owned pieces of land that cannot be monopolized
■ Revision of laws to confront wastage of public money and those with personal interests at the expense of the nation
■ Serious steps to stop the exodus of wealth holders and entrepreneurs abroad due to red tape
■ Opening the country to everyone to contribute to the renaissance of Kuwait, as it happened in the 1980s during the reign of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem
■ Revitalizing the national economy and guiding young people in managing their enterprises while receiving vital support are essential
■ Oil in neighboring countries accounts for 40 percent of the national income, while it still constitutes 93 percent of the income in Kuwait
■ Stability of the ministerial position is the pillar of reform and confrontation with the parliamentarians must be according to certain criteria
■ Benefiting from minds and expertise without limiting themselves to a specific group, and confronting ‘wasta’ and the ‘this is our own’ mindset

This deliberation resulted in prioritizing three issues. Sources attributed the wastage of public money to weak laws, some of which were approved in the interest of a certain segment of people. Sources asserted this does not achieve justice, which is a basic aspiration for any country facing challenges, indicating these laws must be revised to protect public money and hold those involved in squandering public money accountable. Sources emphasized that “the second part focuses on wasting opportunities, and the exodus of capital and entrepreneurs abroad due to bureaucracy and the contradictory decisions of ministries. For example, the Ministry of Commerce issues a license to an entrepreneur, while the Kuwait Municipality prevents the latter from starting his business or a certain department puts obstacles for reasons that are in the interest of an influential person.” Sources also disclosed that “in neighboring countries, anyone can complete his transaction at home. He does not go back and forth between ministries.

Therefore, the entrepreneurs and owners of capital fl ed to those countries, where they can enjoy facilities that Kuwait cannot provide. The higher decision-making circles are disturbed by this matter, and directives were issued to mitigate the exaggeration of conditions and bureaucracy; especially with regard to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that were established in order to revitalize the national economy and guide young people in managing their enterprises in a business environment in which the government, ministries and institutions help them.

The decision makers reviewed the accomplishments of neighboring countries in terms of diversifying sources of national income, considering one of them made oil equivalent to 40 percent of national product within five years and it has now reached about 85 percent. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman have surpassed Kuwait in this field, while Kuwait is still dependent on oil – exceeding 93 percent of its income, causing great inconvenience for decision-makers in the process of developing the country.”

Sources hinted that “those concerned went back to the era of HH the late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem, specifically how he fairly distributed wealth among citizens and opened the country to everyone in order to contribute to the renaissance of Kuwait.” They pointed out that the projects implemented at the time and the achievements until the mid-1980s could be considered the foundation of nation building.

On the localization of capital, sources confirmed that the leadership then deliberated on the entertainment issue. They said the Ministry of Information during that period “was keen on organizing various activities during summer and holidays, as an important source of income and an important tributary of domestic tourism beneficial for both the citizens and expatriates. The decision-making circles also deliberated for a long time on the ‘mass migration’ during vacations, holidays and other events.” It is noteworthy that the talk is about stopping the habit of spending holidays abroad due to the absence of recreational activities in the country; which prompted more than 400,000 citizens to travel for short vacations and this means the loss of national product reached unreasonable limits.

Sources said the decision-makers condemned the closure of beaches to the public; indicating this is a negative phenomenon since these beaches are State properties and no one should monopolize them. On the reform map, sources confirmed that the decision-makers discussed the instability of ministerial positions. “No minister can work at full capacity, while the sword of accountability or dismissal threat is pointed at his neck. Kuwait has had 32 governments, in which more than 20 ministers were either dismissed at the request of some MPs or resigned when they did not find any help from the Council of Ministers during interpellation. Some of them resigned or were expelled within a month or less. Decision-makers are discussing this issue, because of the significance of the stability of the ministerial position; while the confrontation with the MPs must follow the criteria. Ministers have the ability to manage their ministries according to the law. They should not be subjected to threats, especially since they have been instructed to apply the law to the old before the young, and not to return to the policy of deals between ministers and parliamentarians because of the corruption it brought to the country,” sources clarified. In conclusion, sources affirmed “the leadership stresses the need to fully benefit from minds and expertise without being limited to a specific group. In developed countries, governments invest in human resources to develop the national product. They do not rely on ‘nepotism’ or the ‘this is our own mindset’, which caused corruption.”

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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