Hopefuls call to plug deficit, but not at citizens’ expense
KUWAIT: Candidates standing in the Nov 26 general election called on the government to take necessary measures to tackle the growing budget deficit, but without undermining the standard of living of Kuwaiti citizens. The economic issue, especially government decisions and future plans to raise the prices of services and fuel, topped the agendas of the candidates, who warned the government that touching the income of citizens is a “red line” that must not be crossed.
Former MP Askar Al-Enezi, bidding for re-election, warned the government against “taking measures that undermine the income of Kuwaiti citizens because this is a red line”, adding that in the wake of the sharp drop in oil prices, “the government should have alternative solutions and treatments that rationalize spending and stop squandering of public funds”.
Enezi said that any government decision to raise prices or impose charges on citizens will be strongly confronted by the next National Assembly. Enezi was referring to the government’s decision to raise petrol prices and reported plans to further reduce public subsidies and impose various types of taxation in a bid to boost non-oil revenues to finance the budget deficit.
Former MP Roudhan Al-Roudhan said the decision to hike petrol prices was wrong and the government should have cut spending, starting from the top bureaucrats. Former Islamist MP Hamad Al-Matar said Kuwait is passing through a highly delicate period because of total dependence on oil as the only source of income, adding that the country needs comprehensive reforms.
Matar said the sharp decline in oil prices and the rising cost of its production as time goes by means that the country has reached a critical stage, which requires swift economic reforms to safeguard the interests of the future generations. He said that resolving the economic crisis cannot be made at the cost of citizens, especially low-income people, but through halting the severe squandering of public funds, valued at several billion dinars.
Matar called for working out a timetable for diversifying sources of income and for reducing dependence on oil. He charged that rampant corruption in various parts of the government only worsens the economic crisis, adding that the next Assembly should be prepared to confront corruption.
Meanwhile, the administrative court yesterday looked into several cases of candidates who were barred by the election authorities to contest the parliamentary polls. The court postponed two cases for today and referred two others to another court. The court has already ruled to allow 15 candidates to run in the polls, out of 47 hopefuls barred by the election authorities either because they had been previously handed verdicts by courts or for not completing their nomination papers.
Those reinstated include former MPs Safa Al-Hashem and Abdulhameed Dashti, in addition to Sheikh Malek Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, the only ruling family member in the race. The government has already challenged these rulings at the court of appeals. Such cases must be resolved before the election.
By B Izzak