OpinionOthers

Alia and Ghalia

Talking about various forms of corruption, senior officials immediately ask for proofs and examples, which sounds more like throwing the ball back to our court. Such a challenge is logical in terms of having to prove any allegations. The challenge would even be greater if simple citizens are asked to produce statistics and authentic official documents. Therefore, occasional reports issued by some monitoring bodies like the Audit Bureau, investigations committee and judicial sources can be handy.

Logic can sometimes be enough to compare certain situations to other real examples based on figures and facts concerning some strange practices in state projects. One of these examples is the new airport project that has so far cost $25 million in blueprints and designs only, which is a clear indication of the government’s serious malfunction and mismanagement in running state errands. Like the rest of our dreams, the dream to have a new airport has turned into a 10-year old nightmare, which is a time long enough to build five airports according to the world’s latest and most beautiful designs.

This project has so far cost us KD 1.8 billion ($6 billion), which is far more than what had been spent on building Dubai airport, the luxurious Doha airport and the miraculous Singapore airport. This sum is deducted in full from the state’s budget. Another simple comparison reveals our dilemma when we consider Queen Alia Airport in Jordan. It is the most recently opened airport in the Arab world. It was built in less than five years with a total cost of $950 million (KD 290 million), which is less than one sixth of the cost of our so-called airport.

The story does not end there. The Jordanian government did not pay a single dinar for the new airport. The entire cost was collected under supervision, contribution and execution of the World Bank and three private companies. The story still does not end there. The Jordanian government annually makes $350 million in fees paid by the company running the airport compared to when the government used to spend $75 million a year when it ran the airport itself. Accordingly, this sums up the total gain from the new airport alone to $425 million, which is equal to the sum paid by the government in subsidies for fuel and electricity!

To make the comparison fair, Queen Alia Airport is much larger than our proposed airport. It has 65 gates, which is the same like our new airport if we ignore the fact that Alia Airport has prepared extra 40 gates for any future expansions without any extra cost.

Our wildest ambitions now is not to compare ourselves to Singapore or Dubai, but to do so with a rather small Arab country that does not possess the same economic potentials we have. Apparently, they are mentally and humanly superior to us and that is why there is no wonder that their projects are ‘Alia’ (high) and ours are only Ghalia (expensive)!

– Translated by Kuwait Times from Al-Jarida

By Dr Hassan Jouhar

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