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YEARS ago, and with each new dawn, we go back to square one in mourning for our economic and financial situation, and the state it has reached. On the other hand, our successive governments have been absolving themselves of responsibility, wailing daily, and calling for a solution to the financial crisis.
Sometimes it renders the public debt law, which was suspended based on the whims of the MPs, as the beam of redemption. Sometimes, it indicates its intention to touch the pockets of the people and impose taxes, making it seem as if Kuwait is bankrupt of all resources, and suffers from a baldness of ideas, and that it has nothing left but such crippled solutions that neither nourishes nor saves from hunger.
It is true that imposing taxes is one of the solutions, given that the cradle-to-tomb welfare state has become a thing of the past. We have to frankly admit this, but it is not the final solution; rather it is a step in the long path.
Also, privatization could be another step, but it is not sufficient if there is no proper management of the national economy. It is something that everyone is talking about diversifying, and finding other sources of income. However, such talks are of no use, because those who put this forward do not have a plan. Therefore, we will remain in a vicious circle until God decrees a matter that was already in effect.
Perhaps it is useful to learn from the experiences of others. There are many countries in the world that do not have the natural resources that are available in Kuwait. For instance, countries like Japan, Singapore and South Korea do not have any reliable natural resources, but they have been able to transform into global economic powers, because they have the power of human, mind and knowledge, which are the most important tools for advancement and development. On top of this, they have the will to plan and implement, and do not stop at any obstacles like we do.
The Netherlands, for example, is today the third largest producer of cheese, yogurt and milk in the world. According to some international reports, it has about 13 million cows, and it does not suffer from economic crises and famines from time to time.
To put this issue into contrast, Ethiopia owns up to 54 million cows, Sudan has 43 million cows, and Mauritania has about 20 million livestock of different varieties. Despite this, these countries have not been able to overcome their food crisis, and for decades they have witnessed the lowest levels of economic security.
The crisis of these countries is not in natural resources. Sudan is described as the food basket of the Arab world. Ethiopia is one of the richest African countries in natural resources. However, they lack proper plans and management of resources, and there is widespread favoritism, political quotas, bias based on clan, and tribalism.
Moving away from the African continent as well as the European and Asian models in economic advancement and making good use of potential, we have models within the Gulf region that can be benefited from, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In this regard, I use the words of one of the Gulf officials – “Kuwait thinks and we implement”. All of the Kuwaiti ideas turned into a catalyst for the rise of the Gulf countries within a period of time.
In the Emirates, the desert conditions and the hot and humid weather did not prevent Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest of the Emirates from turning into a global investment destination. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a huge economic power today.
The reason for this is the presence of a conscious administration that is loyal to its country, does not favor the corrupt, and does not turn a blind eye to the looters of public money. The best example of this is the Saudi campaign against princes, royals and businessmen who plundered the state’s resources for decades, until a leader arose to contain and curb the corruption in that country.
Kuwait’s problem is neither with ideas nor with natural resources. It is with the management, which is distracted by trivial and secondary matters. A year or so ago, we published a Twitter message concerning oxens that run the economy and not the number of cows. We do not have a problem related to lack of money, but with a large number of thieves.
We have about 90 monitoring bodies that are costing the state treasury more than KD 100 million. Except for four of them, they are anything but effective, because they are based on favoritism and nepotism. Unfortunately, this is today’s Kuwait … May Lord have mercy.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times