The situation is like this

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Ahmed Al-Jarallah

YOUR Highness the Prime Minister, there are two issues that I hope are in the mind of the Cabinet.

Kuwait’s main income is dependent on oil, sovereign investments, and some fees collected from citizens and residents, which neither nourish nor avail hunger. However, the largest portion of the state budget is dedicated for salaries and subsidies, amounting to 78 percent, as per the recently approved state budget. On the other hand, investment spending has decreased by about 33 percent. This means a lack of interest in profit-generating projects. It is worth highlighting that the deficit has now reached about KD 6.8 billion.

In this regard, there is a lot of talk about infrastructure projects, trains, metro, and many others that have remained on paper for many years.

In fact, it has become like a unicorn – praised by many but never seen by any. This is because it was not there during conflicts between the parliaments and the successive Councils of Ministers, and delaying it raised its annual cost by about 20 percent.

Your Highness the Prime Minister, when about 78 percent of the budget is allocated to salaries and subsidies, it indicates that the pyramid is upside down. There is no economic vision for the state, which lives on slogans, including not touching the citizens’ pockets even if those citizens are wealthy.

Such well-off citizens end up getting everything for free from tea to electricity and water. On the other hand, the country lacks infrastructure and services, as is the case in countries similar to Kuwait in terms of wealth.

Your Highness the Prime Minister, there is no doubt that sovereign funds generate profit, but not to the required level. If there are local service and investment projects, their returns will be better. They also move the wheel of production in the country and localize sovereign investments in the country.

As for the returns from investment in global financial markets, no matter how profitable they may be sometimes, they also have their negatives, just like the 2008 crisis, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russian-Ukrainian war.

There is also no doubt that Your Highness knows that oil is an exhaustible substance. Therefore relying on it for the main income is a kind of adventure. Such a situation cannot continue like this.

It also does not make sense to collect public money in the form of internal and external donations, and to spend on salaries without any return, as is the case in the laws approved by successive parliaments to bribe voters. In return, the voters spend them on tourism abroad due to the lack of entertainment in the country. This leaves us to wonder, for instance, why 130,000 people travel abroad during the national holidays.

It goes without saying that there are vast areas of unexploited land, and therefore spending on projects there has become an urgent necessity.

However, in order to get out of the crisis of lack of any productive outlets, there must be a strict control on spending, so that none of it costs ten times its actual cost, and to ensure that there is no systematic plundering.

Your Highness the Prime Minister, it is true that there is a housing crisis, but there is also a deliberate neglect in addressing it, because those who benefit from it seek to continue it in order to achieve optimum profits.

If such lands are used for building housing cities similar to what is being done in other countries, it would generate huge returns for the state and achieve social stability. However, this requires a change in the approach to rentier spending and unifying salaries in order for the state to get rid of the burdens placed on it as a result of the parliamentary and ministerial chaos that made public money resemble Ali Baba’s adventures.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

This news has been read 1359 times!

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