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Will we see development plan?

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I think that our problem in Kuwait lies in our instability in a certain political situation. Neither are we a dictatorship, nor are we a democratic state.

If we were one of the two systems, we would not have been late in development, and we would not have reached this deficit and political confusion that we are in, and development plans would not have been delayed, and it would have been impossible, for example, to imagine paying more than two billion dollars in fines for the ‘Dow Chemicals’ Project because the government and parliament chose at that time to settle scores at the expense of the nation’s supreme interest.

Years ago, the government announced a development plan, and it turned out, as usual, that it was neither correct nor sound on paper due to its indifference to the minute details that the devil sleeps between its lines.

At the time, the plan proposed giving 10 billion dinars to speed up the implementation of construction projects, such as medical cities, the Khairan City, low-cost homes, new roads, medical warehouses at the border, and others and allocating a similar amount for the development of the oil sector.

The plan also included a proposal to sell some public utilities to the private sector, or to assign it to establish joint-stock companies in which the government, strategic investors and citizens participate, such as electricity generation projects, metro and railways, and the development of Failaka Island, among others, and allocating 300 million dinars as capital for all these projects.

The battle began early over the development plan between the hawks in the National Assembly who as usual shout at the top of their voices and the government, especially with regard to defining the mechanism, or the party that should finance these fat companies.

One side sees the establishment of a jumbo bank that finances it on easy terms and for long terms. Another sees assigning the Development Fund to the financing process after increasing its capital.

A third saw the issuance of bonds whose funds are used to finance new corporate loans. A fourth demanded the establishment of a permanent body or entity specialized in development and reconstruction projects with an independent budget and management and away from politics.

And between this and that we lost much not only because of the political conflict that decimated us, but also because of the absence of the philosophy behind the plan. No party has determined whether the goal is to run the wheel of the economy, or modify the population structure, or increase its imbalance, or provide housing for the citizen, or give priority for education.

Who will lead the private sector or the flabby government agencies that are constrained by thousands of restrictions? Does the government or the private sector have the executive and absorptive capacity to implement all these projects, and spend billions of dollars in one year?

What about the financial imbalances that will arise as a result of spending all these sums without an infrastructure that can accommodate the expected expansions?

Do we have enough construction and building companies, or we need to attract foreign companies, and what about the administrative restrictions that are hostile to their presence, this is other than the scarcity of manpower, the scarcity of building materials, the limited storage capacity, the weak capacity of the ports, and the weakness of the rest of the state agencies from customs, food control and administrations of migration and work, and the lack of electricity, water and roads to face the influx of hundreds of thousands of workers to implement projects worth more than fifty billion dollars in a limited and small market? What about the dangerous inflation expected in the prices of everything?

I still remember well the statement of the former minister, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd, when he stated that 25% of the development plan had been completed. A few days later, the Minister of Public Works and Municipality followed him by saying that what had been accomplished of the plan was 27%, after which MP Ahmad Al-Sa’adoun declared and said that what the plan had accomplished did not exceed zero.

The establishment of two or three feasible joint stock companies with shares offered to citizens, and the subsequent appropriation of them by the influential, the above questions have remained unanswered for years.

We are writing this article on the occasion of the appointment of Abdul Wahab Al-Rasheed as Minister of Finance. Will we see a development plan since that was his demand when he was sitting among us?

e-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

By Ahmad alsarraf

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