A bar­ren gov­ern­ment, ster­ile Par­lia­ment and neg­a­tive clas­si­fi­ca­tion, how long will de­crees of ne­ces­sity re­main a pris­oner of hes­i­ta­tion?

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ahmed Al-Jar­al­lah Email: ahmed@al­jar­al­lah.com Fol­low me on: ahmedal­jar­al­lah@gmail.com

KUWAIT has en­tered the cy­cle of neg­a­tive credit rat­ing, and the men­tal­ity that man­ages the sen­si­tive eco­nomic-fi­nan­cial file is still un­con­cerned about the dis­turb­ing con­se­quences that the com­ing days can bring to the coun­try and its peo­ple.

It seems as though the gov­ern­ment is liv­ing on planet Mars and wait­ing for the Na­tional Assem­bly to of­fer her spar­row milk. At the same time, the MPs have mas­tered only the art of po­lit­i­cal black­mail, which sug­gests that the gov­ern­ment is bar­ren and the Par­lia­ment is ster­ile. There­fore, both will not pro­duce any solution, which is what makes mat­ters worse.

Since the be­gin­ning of last year, warn­ings of de­clin­ing sov­er­eign rat­ing started to emerge. How­ever, the pre­vi­ous and cur­rent gov­ern­ments nei­ther took any step for res­cue nor lis­tened to the voices of those con­cerned in this re­gard, even though op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion and in­crease sov­er­eign as­sets, both abroad and in­ter­nally, came up more than once.

Re­gret­tably, what hap­pened was un­for­tu­nately more like some­one push­ing a snow­ball from the top of a slope to the bot­tom. The Par­lia­ment re­jected the Public Debt Law, while the gov­ern­ment, which bears the re­spon­si­bil­ity col­lec­tively, could have passed it through a de­cree of ne­ces­sity on one hand, and in­creased its in­vest­ment in shares and real es­tates in var­i­ous coun­tries of the world, as their value dropped at the be­gin­ning of COVID-19 cri­sis, on the other hand.

Yes, it was pos­si­ble to do that months ago with­out fear­ing the opin­ions of the non-ex­perts un­der the pre­text that they would ac­cuse the gov­ern­ment of sup­port­ing traders, for ex­am­ple, if it bought shares in Kuwaiti banks or com­pa­nies listed on the stock ex­change, even though those are owned by about 500,000 Kuwaitis, and not by dozens of traders.

It was also able to ob­tain more than $90 bil­lion, which it cur­rently needs to ad­just the bal­ance of ex­pen­di­tures and re­duce the bud­get deficit, as many coun­tries – both neigh­bor­ing or dis­tant – have done.

How­ever, upon the ad­vice of their ex­perts who of­ten pro­vide for their per­sonal in­ter­ests over any other in­ter­est, it de­lib­er­ately threw the ball in the court of the law­mak­ers. This means it has aban­doned its role as an ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity whose main task is to man­age the econ­omy, se­cu­rity and so­ci­ety, and avoid be­ing neg­li­gent in any of these tasks. Also, it should not sub­ju­gate the coun­try’s fate out of fear of a min­is­ter be­ing ques­tioned or for de­fend­ing him in deals made at the ex­pense of the public in­ter­est.

There is no doubt that what has hap­pened is the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of the gov­ern­ment – from the Prime Min­is­ter to the last min­is­ter. The solution is not in the for­ma­tion of a supreme com­mit­tee to deal with the prob­lem of neg­a­tive credit rat­ing. This is not be­cause such com­mit­tees are the ceme­ter­ies of cases only, but be­cause this means lick­ing the coolant, in­creas­ing pres­sure on banks and the pri­vate sec­tor in gen­eral as well as rais­ing the value of debt ex­ter­nally and in­ter­nally, and bring­ing about fur­ther eco­nomic down­turn, which has al­most reached the point of stran­gling Kuwait.

His High­ness the Prime Min­is­ter, in re­sponse to his in­ter­roga­tors, said the gov­ern­ment spent about KD 500 mil­lion on health needs with­out re­fer­ring to the Na­tional Assem­bly, even though this amount, ac­cord­ing to many re­li­able sources, is ac­tu­ally about KD 1.5 bil­lion.

Be­cause of this, we wish to ask – “If the gov­ern­ment can spend this amount with­out seek­ing the opin­ion of the Par­lia­ment, why did it not se­cure the other sums in the same way?”

When the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ah­mad – May Al­lah have mercy on him – was the head of the gov­ern­ment, he used to seek the help of the most im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional ex­perts in crises, ei­ther con­cern­ing the climate mar­ket prob­lem or af­ter the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and its im­pacts on Kuwait in 1987, and oth­ers. These global ex­perts were neu­tral and not con­nected to any lo­cal in­ter­ests due to which their reme­dies suc­ceeded and mit­i­gated the ef­fects of the cri­sis.

Of course, this did not hap­pen with the cur­rent gov­ern­ment, as it re­lied on ex­perts who in­clude those with no credit to their name other than their suc­cess in con­clud­ing a deal, and the il­lu­sion that he had be­come an ex­pert “weave and sew”. The gov­ern­ment lis­tens to such an ex­pert and con­sid­ers his opin­ion but ends up in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion that we are in.

De­spite all of the above, there is still an op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion, but with bold de­ci­sions and nec­es­sary de­crees, which could be by passing the public debt law, eco­nomic stim­u­lus, and other nec­es­sary leg­is­la­tions. Wait­ing for com­mit­tee re­ports means more losses such that the gov­ern­ment alone bears re­spon­si­bil­ity for its in­ac­tion and sub­mis­sion to par­lia­men­tary ter­ror­ism.

In or­der for this proverb – “He who is sat­is­fied with a pair of jack­ets, is sat­is­fied with a jacket and a sheep” – not to be ap­pli­ca­ble to the gov­ern­ment, we say it frankly – “Ap­prove the pend­ing laws by de­cree of ne­ces­sity”.

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