Badrya Darwish

The market is scared nowadays. It’s very gloomy, and it’s not due to dust storms and bad weather. Instead, the atmosphere is highly affected by a lack of confidence in the economic situation in Kuwait. No one is spending, and everyone is putting their money in their pockets. They are just buying the necessities of life – the majority of what we spend is on food.

There is an atmosphere of dull stagnancy when you go to the market. Why is this? The economy is actually not doing that bad and oil prices have been rising steadily, reaching around $50 per barrel, which is a great improvement for us. As it is, our budget is set for $45 per barrel. So we aren’t hurting, and we still see the government financing mega projects not less than before – actually even more. But the government keeps saying ‘deficit’ after ‘deficit’ after ‘deficit’, without giving us thorough details.

Actually, they don’t know the impact on the market when they keep saying that the financial sky is falling. The sky is not falling. The government and its plans are failing to revive the market and to rebuild our confidence in Kuwait’s economic future. On the contrary, it’s very depressing that we keep hearing about humongous amounts – millions of dinars – lost to corruption and payoffs, bribery, etc.

May I ask one question? I’m not an economic expert, but why doesn’t the government deal directly with suppliers for major issues like weapons, arms, airplanes or oil tankers? Why does it need a middleman? This is what encourages corruption. Another major problem is that there is no transparency in any sector of the government. And please don’t tell me privatization will solve this problem. Actually, you will end up making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

And worst of all, the government continues to talk about the bad economic shape of the country while it’s doing nothing to grow the economy and rebuild it. We need confidence in the market. We need optimism in the market. Not someone to distress and keep telling us we are broke. Especially when we have hundreds of billions of dollars in investments we could use.

All these subsidy cuts – water, fuel, electricity, KOC employees’ benefits, etc, etc – actually have a reverse effect. Was all of this really necessary? They make us scared and less likely to invest or expand or grow our businesses and our economy. It’s like a game to psych us out. They’ve killed the morale of the nation.

By Badrya Darwish