EVERYONE knows that the COVID-19 pandemic has emptied billions from the State Treasury due to the unexpected expenses spent for evacuating citizens from overseas and placing them in institutional quarantine along with expatriates.
Furthermore, the price of Kuwaiti oil has dropped to less than $14 per barrel because of reduced demand owing to the coronavirus crisis. The state budget, which had been suffering from the government’s lavish spending, has sustained dozens of unexpected expenses, rendering the deficit to reach $14 billion amid the coronavirus crisis.
This was followed by the oil companies, particularly Kuwait Oil Company, demanding increase in the pay for its employees even though most of them are already receiving unimaginably high salaries reaching more than KD 10,000.
All this is due to the rash announcement made by the government to indefinitely suspend work in the government sector, calling it public holiday. This rendered the employees of the oil sector to grasp the golden opportunity and demand double their salary as per the labor regulations in that pampered sector.
The oil sector leadership, represented by the board of directors and managing directors of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and the Minister of Oil, yielded to these demands and maintained silence about this outrageous transgression on the public wealth.
This was caused by the Civil Service Commission and the Cabinet and their foreign advisors who are entitled to incredible privileges despite suspicions about their academic certificates and experience; however, this is not our topic today.
The topic for today is about the revelation made by Al-Qabas newspaper on Monday, April 27 regarding oil sector employees who siphoned off or rather looted KD 50 million in the form of salaries from March 12 to April 20. These employees of the Kuwait Oil Company, whom I described in my previous article as those who discovered the oil wells in Kuwait, had illegally acquired KD 38 million along with several trainees in Mina Abdullah and Al-Zour oil fields. Their exaggerated salaries in a regular month do not exceed KD 12 million.
We thank Al-Qabas newspaper for raising this issue. The managing director of the company – who lives in a seafront building along the Arabian Gulf Street – had unfortunately tried to downplay the issue by stating that the corporation generates annual revenues of KD 15 billion for the government.
It seems as though these billions are generated as a result of the creativity or industrial innovation of his corporate companies.
In this regard, all that is left for us to do after washing our hands on the oil sector’s leadership – from the minister to the managing director of the corporation and its board chairperson – is to call upon His Highness the Prime Minister to intervene and put an end to this looting of the public wealth, and ensure the return of the wealth that was acquired illegally.
Whether we like it or not, the doors of the oil companies are huge. Working in such companies is a dream for noble Kuwaiti youth, and we hope the MPs of the successive parliaments will follow-up this issue related to the looting of the public wealth.
We also hope for such follow-ups to be conducted by the State Audit Bureau and the Civil Service Commission to whom we say, “Wake up from your slumber”, given that it is unbelievable for them and the petroleum employees to unite with the coronavirus against us.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil