By B Izzak
KUWAIT: Candidates contesting for parliamentary seats in the Sept 29 snap polls have warned that corruption is destroying the country, claiming it accounts for as much as 35 percent of Kuwait’s mammoth budget of KD 24 billion. They also called for fundamental and lasting solutions to chronic problems of housing, population and unemployment, which are threatening to become the biggest headache for hundreds of thousands of fresh graduates.
New candidate Moath Al-Duwailah, contesting the polls from the fourth constituency, alleged corruption has eaten up more than 35 percent of the country’s budget, amounting to around KD 8 billion annually. He said public funds lost a total of over $2.3 billion from three major corruption cases. He said the wide-scale corruption comes amid complacence by officials to adopt measures to curb corruption in state funds.
Duwailah, who is running on the ticket of the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the solution to face such massive corruption is by activating supervisory bodies like the Audit Bureau and others and to more actively send files of corruption cases to court. He also called for opening the “file of political reforms”.
Former MP Abdullah Al-Kandari, running independently from the third constituency, said there can be no serious talk about real political reforms and a new direction if they are not accompanied by serious and effective measures “to hold to account thieves of public funds”. Abdullah Mohammad Al-Mufarrej, running in the third constituency, highlighted the serious impact of imbalance in the demographic structure in the country, which is in favor of expats.
He said the population structure has become a snowball that inflated and crossed all red lines, reminding expats form 70 percent of the population. “We have become a minority in our own country… marginal laborers and visa merchants are in control of official decisions” he said. Mufarrej said there is no solution except by cleaning up Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh, an area heavily populated by expats, and abolishing the “backwards” sponsor system, adding the next Assembly must expose visa traders.
Candidate Mohammad Al-Jouan from the third constituency warned that unemployment is rapidly growing into one of the country’s top dilemmas. He said that 360,000 Kuwaitis, forming around 80 percent of national manpower, are employed by the government. During the next 15 to 20 years, around 325,000 fresh graduates are expected to enter the job market and the government has no capacity to employ them. At this point, Kuwait will start feeling the pinch of a real unemployment problem, he warned.