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GIVEN that we are eager for reassurances, the people of this country view the speech of His Highness the Prime Minister as a call for awakening and correction so that the country has whatever it needs in order to get out of its predicament.
Also, since the road to cooperation between the National Assembly and the ministers has been paved after eliminating the mutual fuses of tension, everyone is waiting for the materialization of the pledges of His Highness the Prime Minister in both legislative and governmental aspects, as opposed to such pledges ending up being empty, for which the country has paid heavy prices in the past decades.
In his action plan, His Highness the Prime Minister said the government’s priorities are reforms, housing welfare, security and eliminating corruption. Undoubtedly, these pledges have been adopted by successive governments, including the current government, but they are yet to be seen on the ground.
In terms of housing care, this sector, instead of progressing, has retrogressed significantly in the past three decades and has become more complex in the last two years due to the backward method being followed.
This is happening at a time when neighboring countries have developed their methods and resolved the issue within a few years time, and formed a support force for the private sector to save billions through a simple procedure, which is the assignment of construction to this sector, and the state provides the land and covers a percentage of the interest on citizens’ loans.
So when His Highness the Prime Minister pledges to solve this problem, everyone hopes that the solution will be similar to what exists in those countries so that the country will come out of a cycle that will continue to worsen as long as housing care is considered to be an acquired right of the citizen.
In terms of the issue of not touching the pockets of low-income earners, the steps towards achieving it are minimal. This is due to the fact that the government, instead of carefully studying the subsidies and directing them in the right path, is drowning from time to time in wasting the funds in this regard to the extent of the subsidy reaching sums equivalent to the budget of some countries.
This is because these subsidies go to those who do not deserve it, as the wealthy ones who do not need subsidies, also receive such subsidies, rendering Kuwaitis to appear as though they are living on aid.
As for the eradication of corruption, this is a ridiculous and weeping talk. Here, let His Highness the Prime Minister allow us to say – If the intention was really sincere in fighting this scourge that made Kuwait seem, in the eyes of most international institutions, as if it were part of “the adventures of Ali Baba and the hundred thieves”, it would have sufficed at the time for the law to be implemented on everyone, and that tenders be placed in their correct context, and that costs are reduced.
It should not be in the manner that Kuwait contracts to import 600 million masks, pays for them but does not receive them, and then chooses to order 480 million masks from the local market.
In terms of reforms, it is necessary to unify the salary scales of all employees in the public sector, and not have the salaries in the oil sector be many times higher than the salaries in other ministries such as Communication, Health, Public Works, Education and others.
This kind of disparity in salary has turned the oil sector into an electoral battleground for MPs and a window for the influential who reconcile through it in every aspect.
In other countries of the world, there is a unified salary scale for all employees in the public sector, and there is no preference for one employee over another. This means that these countries do not work with the “stick and carrot” theory that prevails in the institutions of our supposedly democratic state.
There is a necessary path that Kuwait needs to walk on in order to get out of its crisis. It must amend the backward laws that burden the state budget, and open the country to everyone, similar to Saudi Arabia, which some used to describe in the past as a closed state. However, that country is today issuing entry visas every three minutes to anyone who has the competence or has a project there through which he is working and generating money for the state. On the other hand, everything in Kuwait is forbidden to the extent that the citizens, residents and visitors fear that the very air they breathe will become forbidden.
In some US states, there are strange and backward laws, such as banning a person from riding an animal if he does not carry its feed with him, or in the state of Georgia where it is forbidden to eat chicken with a fork. Such laws are no different in its strangeness from the law that bans coeducation in the colleges and universities of Kuwait, which costs the state huge sums of money annually.
However, the United States of America has overcome this backward legal mentality, while our esteemed parliaments are still searching for the devil in the details so that some or the other MP could prove that he is the strongest by passing such laws.
Yes, the speech of His Highness the Prime Minister is good both in form and content, but the important part is its implementation, which is what Kuwaitis are waiting for. They have undoubtedly put their hands on their hearts today for fear that a question from an MP to His Highness the Prime Minister or any of the ministers might undermine the entire speech.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times