munaAn expat friend asked me about the “Let it Spoil” campaign. He read about it in the paper and wondered what I think about it. I immediately said, “Don’t let it spoil!” Sorry to say, but such events give the world an idea how we Arabs are setting our priorities today – the stomach first, the brain second! While the world is watching with anxiety the crazy fall in oil prices and is setting new rules to confront corruption and regulating the life of inhabitants, we are making a fuss due to the increase of prices of some kinds of fish. No one is asking who is behind this increase and its reasons.

All we want is prices to drop so we can fill our bellies. The way I see this matter is that I don’t have to eat salmon if I can’t afford to buy it. I am sure there are many other kinds of fish one can afford to buy whose prices have not changed or increased. Some people like caviar and they can afford to buy it.

Some cannot, but I have not seen a campaign to boycott caviar because of its steep price. Food in Kuwait is expensive in general, and there is nothing cheap when it comes to fresh foods, especially fish and meat, and for more than a year, some types of local fish are too expensive.

For example, balol prices have increased to KD 10 per kilogram, subaiti KD 8 per kilo and hammour KD 7.5 per kilogram. No one said a thing, yet suddenly this issue is occupying headlines. Let’s go in-depth and look at the reasons that need a solution. The fishermen insist that the hike in prices of fish is due to the strict procedures implemented by the coastguard and other authorities in monitoring fishing boats that number 80 in total, which has reduced the availability of fish in the market to a large extent.

Some claim the reduced number of fishermen and difficulty in bringing fishermen from overseas and providing them with residency permits are some of the other reasons for the hike in the prices of fish. Another reason is the hike in the rent of the stalls selling fish. These are major obstacles that require a solution and many official parties are involved here, including the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Interior, Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources, Kuwait Fishermen Union and possibly many others. Unless all these parties get together and come up with a plan, this campaign will be a partial success for a short time.

I support the idea of community members holding social campaigns to call for reforms, combating corruption and community service in general, but this campaign will lead to a temporary solution and an artificial drop in prices, which will not last long. This is why I say don’t let it spoil…

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net