Corruption and reform

By Dr Khalid Al-Saleh

Public frustration is not a new phenomenon and not limited to Kuwait people, as in every country of the world, there exists a group of people suffering from frustration and depression, as well as inability to achieve their ambitions. But in Kuwait, the frustration phenomenon took a public turn in the past year. The reason of frustration in Kuwait is corruption reports that revealed that Kuwait is rich, but despite this, development growth is weak due to corruption.

Kuwait should realistically be among the countries where depression is minimal, as Kuwaitis enjoy comprehensive government care from cradle to grave. The Kuwaiti is wrapped at birth with the government blanket and buried in the government shroud. The Kuwaiti is educated and medicated free of charge, and if housing is delayed, he is given rent allowance. If not employed, he is given unemployment benefits. Most citizens work in the government that keeps a closed eye on them and does not hold them to account and does not fire anyone from their job although productivity of most of them is no more than half an hour, as reported by the World Bank.

Also, the government does not collect income or service tax. Yet, all what the government did to satisfy the Kuwaiti people did not succeed; rather, with the spread of financial corruption in the past, the people started to see the government luxuries as a bribe given to them in order to ignore the financial corruption most people see in front of them. This financial corruption placed Kuwait in the worst rank among GCC countries and 73rd in 2021 among 180 countries, i.e. in the lower group of evaluation of Transparency International, and this is the secret behind the frustration of the Kuwaiti citizen.

The budget surplus last year was KD 4.24 billion, that is nearly $13.8 billion, a huge number with which the feelings of fear and frustration increase among Kuwaiti people instead of joy and happiness. Why? Fear of victory by the corrupt in the battle that began months ago and still rages, a battle between reformists and a deep state that made oil funds disappear in favor of the corrupt.

Tens of examples, major and minor, still linger in the minds of citizens, which reflect the fear of the Kuwaiti public from any surplus, because it is made into harmful projects that end with new wars against reformists. Corruption was biting at our values until people started to fear that we may become a nation without values, so why does frustration not spread?

Financial corruption does not only mean violating public funds and the struggle between major merchants to gain the biggest spoils, sometimes with the least production. Financial corruption means direct effects on the citizen; it means shaken confidence in the administrative and supervisory system; it means increase in the spread of material values, end of the ethics era and trade in everything, even in the values of democracy that became a tool in the hands of some people to buy votes at the expense of the developing the country and preserving its gains and its finances from waste – those are the inevitable results.

Kuwaiti people were optimistic about the campaigns against major personalities that were able to restore some confidence in the people, but they are still waiting for deciding the battle in favor of reformists. It is a worrisome wait as the war of interests has no mercy, so the people must interact with the reform process. We must all stand against corruption and support the government in its moves, and support reformist members of parliament and not let the corruption machine succeed in spreading lies against them, or take advantage of some of their mistakes in order to discredit their credibility.

The war on corruption war will not bear fruit as long as the people remain as spectators, as in the end, the people will pay the price. It is a true war, maybe bigger than the invasion of Kuwait, so as we supported Kuwait against the invaders, we must support it today against corruption and the corrupt.

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