IT is said that opportunists never bother themselves with morals … all that they strive for is wealth. Therefore, corruption thrives, and people with a conscience are almost extinct in this country Kuwait, which witnessed a massive looting of public wealth after the liberation.
Hence, talks about reforms and resetting the clock of development and reform are evidently of no value under the current condition of setbacks, unless through a surgical operation, even without anesthesia, in order to reform the administration that created a conducive atmosphere for looting the public funds.
We are talking about scandals such as the Kuwait Oil Tanker Company scandal, investment funds, social security, army funds and Ministry of Interior’s hospitality scandal, and most common of all, the looting of public funds by doubling the cost of projects.
Therefore, Your Highness the Prime Minister, the words that you said on the stage of the Opera House, and the stern attitude you displayed towards officials and government leaders during your meeting with them, will not help. They are linked to centers of power and influential people, whom you and we, and every young and old in the country know, and we know their power and the strength of their influence.
Mismanagement is worse than corruption because it leads to the collapse of morals, violation of the law, and even stabbing it in cold blood.
For 31 years, that is after the liberation of the country from the invasion, most of the employees had no concern other than one, which was to acquire as much amount of money as possible through legitimate and illegitimate ways, thus striking corruption in the marrow of the state’s bones.
This has reached such an extent that awarding projects has become a tool of “appeasement”. Tenders are distributed to a few with solid connections. The strategic financial reserve is bleeding and no one is doing anything, as though it is not the money of the people who pinned their hopes on governments that stabbed them unexpectedly.
We have been hearing for months that the salaries of the public sector have been hard-earned, and that the ministries have halted their projects, or that there will be no salaries next month.
Is it conceivable that a country like Kuwait, which has a large financial solvency, is unable to pay the salaries of its employees or complete its projects, unless we are talking about matters that have reached the point of drying up the sources of income?!
Your Highness, you bear a great national and moral responsibility. This responsibility extends before the Lord of the worlds. You are entrusted with this responsibility in order to exercise your natural role. So we beg to ask – What has the Cabinet accomplished during the past year and a half?
If all state agencies are unable to recover the funds that were looted in broad daylight, then they are undoubtedly incapable of holding any official accountable, no matter how small his position in the administrative hierarchy is. This is simply because he is afraid of the fingers pointing towards him from different directions.
When talks about the fiscal deficit come back to the forefront, it will be in the form of condemnation towards the Cabinet because it did not initiate real reform, even after all the people of this country accept the justifications and arguments offered by the ministers, foremost among them your Highness, regarding the difficulties in approving reform laws.
Most of the talk turns to the National Assembly’s rejection of any legislation that affects the pockets of citizens. This makes us wonder how some laws can be passed in agreement with the Parliament, while reformative laws get stalled, and laws that immunize the Cabinet and Your Highness from interpellation are passed at an ease? Nevertheless, if the parliament is the one obstructing reforms, then this calls for its closure.
On the other hand, the government must initiate reform along two lines. The first is to seriously seek the recovery of the money that the looters smuggled abroad, and to apply the law relentlessly on all who have looted the public money. This will be in activation and implementation of Article 17 of the Constitution.
The second is to immediately start implementing Article 48 of the Constitution, which states that, “Payment of taxes and contribution to public expenditures represent a duty in conformity with the law. The law shall exempt small income earners from taxation in order to guarantee a minimum income for living.” This means that endorsement of taxes and fees is a constitutionally guaranteed right to you. Relinquishing it is a waste of public money. In this, no one can invoke the protection of people with limited income, whose protection is constitutionally guaranteed.
Successive governments have missed many opportunities, such as the B.O.T. projects, and the northern economic region, about which your Highness spoke extensively for years while it was left sleeping in the drawers of the government and the National Assembly. In other countries where conditions are worse than what they are in Kuwait, they rose up, thanks to good conscience and patriotic devotion.
Your Highness, it is treachery not to speak the truth for the sake of the national interest. Therefore, the best of actions is to eliminate the evil that is destroying the state. Indeed, the evil has multiplied as a result of inaction. All that is because of “appeasements” of many kinds, which begs us to wonder – Would you accept your clean slate to end up soiled?
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times