IT is true that the statement of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry represents an alarm bell. However, this bell has been ringing a lot since before the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have repeated the saying several times.
However, His Highness the Prime Minister and the government did not care about the matter. It was as if they were applying the proverb “Your uncle is dumb”; even the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry did not act at the time … and when disaster struck, she screamed.
For more than two years, international bodies have been warning against the decline of Kuwait’s credit rating, but it seems our officials are working according to their own timing, or rather letting time solve the problems that have exacerbated to such an extent that they cannot be treated. They are satisfied with painkillers, which they think is the best solution, despite everything. When the patient dies from negligence, they return to judgment and fate, without admitting to their negligence and lackluster attitude.
Yes, the catastrophe could have been avoided and the danger could have been prevented … through prudent management of global Kuwaiti investments and the purchase of assets, which has been proven by experience to be of great benefit. It should have been done just as what the Gulf countries did, as they, immediately after the start of the crisis, invested their sovereign money by purchasing assets that saw a decline in prices at that time but rose again later. Kuwait could have borrowed 150-200 billion dollars, invested it in development, and collected large returns from it. However, it instead fell into the trap of short-sighted people who only see the empty half of the cup.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis still casts its shadow over the world. Governments have returned to renewing stimulus plans so that the private sector, which is the backbone of the economy, does not suffer any setbacks that could lead to its contraction or bankruptcy. For example, the government of Bahrain, which does not have the kind of wealth that Kuwait possesses, ordered the banks to postpone loan installments for another six months until June 2021, and not increase or collect interest. On the other hand, our own government and the Central Bank of Kuwait are pressuring the private sector in a way that leads to its suffocation. Is this the solution?
The reality of the situation confirms that we are living in a major crisis. As stated in the statement issued by the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, our homeland is in danger. However, the question is- Have the concerned people read this statement and pondered over its content? Let us inform you that they did not and will not read it, as they have no time. That is because they are busy with parliamentary-ministerial conflicts over positions and settlements to ensure that so-and-so does not ascend the interpellation platform in the National Assembly. Meanwhile, it seems the performance of the current parliament will be worse than its predecessor, and it will not exercise its natural role; instead, the MPs will be satisfied with just quarrels and political blackmail.
Therefore, the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry must follow up this case to the end, because it is concerned with the country’s economy and has a great responsibility to prevent danger. It should not return to working according to the proverb – “Your uncle is dumb,” so that it and the government do not hear or see, while Kuwait accelerates the pace down the slope of collapse.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times