FOR how long will this empty vicious circle of not relying on a serious plan of action continue? Will selectivity pull Kuwait out of its crisis?
This question and many others have been asked by people of this country in view of the confusion surrounding the decisions of the government, which is a bad legacy inherited from its predecessors but what it is still fighting to preserve.
Instead of the government embarking on a reform process, it goes back to square one every single time, especially when it comes to financial and economic matters.
Your Highness the Prime Minister, we are saying this after seeing the lack of seriousness in addressing the source and causes of the crisis; instead, it has devoted itself to remedy its symptoms.
Your esteemed Cabinet has taken a decision to amend the Public-Private Partnership Law. This legislation has been amended to such an extent that it only fits some influentials and parliamentarians. Instead of bringing foreign capital into the country, it became the reason for repelling and expelling Kuwaiti investors, who at one point found themselves facing an organized theft of their ideas and projects.
This theft is committed by employees planted by influential people and MPs in the Public Authority for Industry and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, or they leaked the economic feasibility of the industrial projects to some powerful opportunists who seized the industrial plots and then began to bargain and blackmail the actual investors.
Will this mindset enable Kuwait to compete with its neighbors in this regard? An example that must be considered for contemplation is the violations committed through the face-masks scandal. The industrial sector tried to address immediately after the start of the pandemic, but because those concerned worked with the popular saying – all is well as long as you are on my good side, they closed the road to nine local factories.
They instead opened the road for few importers who imported huge quantities of masks, such that the shipment is enough for years, as was announced. They sold them at the most expensive prices. Instead of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry supporting the local industry, it announced that the import lines are open to everyone, and the facilitation of the issuance of licenses would take a day.
These are simple examples, Your Highness, of what the industrial sector in Kuwait suffers from. Can your government stand in the face of the “bulldozers” who have stretched their arms to the National Assembly, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Public Authority for Industry, and others, while they were unable to confront the crisis of masks?
Worst of all, neither Kuwait Anti Corruption Authority nor the State Audit Bureau or any other supervisory bodies move a finger in this regard to stop tampering with public money.
The proposed law is supposed to be the start of a long plan to implement the northern economic zone project, which is expected to serve Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Iran and Syria, i.e. a population of about 230 million people, besides Kuwait.
Can your Highness imagine that such a huge project can succeed in the manner in which the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the rest of the concerned institutions operate?
Thank you, Your Highness, for proposing amendments to this law. However, we remind you of a hadith of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) – “A believer is not stung from the same hole twice”. So do you think the investors who were expelled by your laws will return?
Perhaps your Highness and the Cabinet should familiarize themselves with the investment and public-private partnership laws of the United States and Britain. Better still, refer to the countries closest to us – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sultanate of Oman, as they preceded us by many strides in this field. The amended law should be without any loopholes through which opportunists could infiltrate and sabotage it in order for the sector to return back to square one.
If that happens, it will make the people of this country sit on the pavement of time, lamenting their luck that has put them in the hands of governments that tremble in front of any scream. Also, you should realize that Kuwait is not the Garden of Eden into which only the cleansed ones will enter with the stamp of racism, envy and greed.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times