By A Saleh
KUWAIT: At a time when a number of charities have urged the Ministry of Social Affairs to defend them against those questioning their performance and hold them legally accountable on grounds that such criticism discourages both charities and donors, Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of State for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel stressed that on presiding the extraordinary Cabinet meeting, HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah thanked all charities and highly commended the role they play inside and outside Kuwait in this crisis. “HH the Amir’s gratitude is the best message to everyone,” she underlined.
Speaking during a meeting with the chairmen of charities and organizations participating in the ‘Faz’at Al-Kuwait’ campaign, Aqeel stressed that the campaign is exceptional and adds to the success Kuwait has so far achieved in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Aqeel also commended charities for supporting government efforts by providing foodstuff and preparing and equipping quarantine and accommodation centers. “We still have a long way to go and the crisis will apparently last longer than expected. We do not know when it will end and we will be lucky if it ends by the end of the year,” she underlined.
Aqeel stressed that periodic meetings are held to review remarks with the aim of preserving the efforts and funds raised and distributed over a long period and protect them from being wasted. She added that charities should focus and direct their activities inside Kuwait during this crisis in order to conserve their resources.
In addition, Aqeel stressed that government reports suggest that the COVID-19 crisis will be over in April or May, adding that measures imposed by the government aim at preventing crowding and direct contact and that the current shutdown will not last till the end of the crisis. “There will be other alternatives including working online from home,” she added.
“International reports suggest that certain jobs will vanish and others will emerge once this disease disappears. The nature of office work will change. No certain experiment has so far proved successful. We are still in the trial and error phase,” she underlined, pointing out that so far, there is no treatment, and that once there is one, it will take long to get to the market.
Responding to a question about the economic effects of the crisis and free market prices, Aqeel stressed a free market has pros and cons, including rising inflation. “These concerns will be addressed in an economic package to be launched soon including laws on lease (rent) and private sector labor act, especially with the emergence of intentions to lay off some manpower,” Aqeel explained, without providing further explanation.
Ministry of Social Affairs recently filed a complaint with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs against an Imam who posted a social media video urging Kuwaitis not to donate to charities and accusing 90 percent of them of being ‘thieves’. In this regard, undersecretary of the ministry of social affairs, Abdul Aziz Sho’aib contacted the awqaf ministry complaining about the Imam of Ibn Abi Al-Donia mosque in Jaber Al-Ahmed area who had posted a video accusing charities of being thieves.
“This is an abuse of charities and the government bodies supervising them. It is an insult to the staffs of the ministry’s charity department and undermines charity efforts that had made Kuwait an international icon of charity,” Sho’aib complained. Further, Sho’aib stressed that all charities operating in Kuwait are supervised by the ministry of social affairs and have accredited annual budgets that are regularly audited by the ministry and accredited auditors. Finally, Sho’aib urged the ministry of awqaf to take legal measures against the Imam.