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A large percentage of projects, such as The Avenues, 360, Marina Mall, and others, do not see anything but huge investment opportunities that the government gave, in an almost free way for merchants.
What these people do not know is that had it not been for these “merchants”, these projects would not have been realized in the first place, and their lands would have remained barren, as they were for four billion years or more.
And what some people do not like to think about is that all these envious merchants would have been exposed to complete bankruptcy, if the “corona virus” had prolonged, for example, for another year, because there is no profit without loss.
I am not concerned with the wrong party regarding the termination of the BOT contract for the management of the Souq Sharq project, or other similar contracts, with the judiciary stepping in, but it pained me to see all this security mobilization to deal with a purely organizational issue, which a management observer in the Ministry of Finance, an officer and two policemen could afford. By ending it efficiently, without a show of force, and the breaking of doors, storming, surrender and forced surrender, without greetings or peace.
The government could have resorted to the judiciary, charged the company with all the costs, and demanded from it all the rents and income it obtained from the date of the expiration of the management contract or the BOT until the date of the ruling, but the issue may be elsewhere!
There is no major disagreement over procedural matters, the disagreement is over the philosophy and strategy of what is being done. It is clear that the private sector finds nothing but obstacles in front of it. As for the citizen, other than the merchant, he only sees the merchant’s sales and profits, and knows nothing about his risks, his fatigue, his late nights, and the possibility of his loss. Other than that, none.
What we are seeing now is restrictions on the local investor, either by placing obstacles in front of him, or the government’s apparent delay in eliminating bureaucracy, its failure to fight bribery, and its continued confiscation or recovery of others’ projects, under one pretext or another, without the government’s Plan B as to how to manage it.
I am not against recovering BOT projects, but it is necessary to avoid turning what has been recovered into ruins, as happened with the Free Zone project and the Al-Sanousi project, and this may be the fate of the Muthanna project and the Agility warehouses, which will be difficult for any other party to manage with the same efficiency, which contain strategic perishable goods.
There is no doubt that the government’s vision towards the private sector, or the philosophy of dealing with it, is missing, as there is no real understanding of the requirements of serious investors. They and the owner of the grocery license are dealt with in the same manner, and from the same government agencies. It was not surprising, therefore, to see this increasing migration of local and jointly owned companies to other cities in the Gulf that are more welcoming, easier to deal with, and less bureaucratic than our dilapidated systems. That is the owners’ access to an easy and beautiful life and a healthy, flexible and quick work environment in dealing with their requirements and desires.
There is a Kuwaiti proverb that may conclude what happened to Souk Sharq, “A Sheikh (or minister) sells and a Sheikh (or minister) hits.”
By Ahmad alsarraf