KUWAIT: Candidate Jamal Al-Omar speaks to Kuwait Times. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: Jamal Al-Omar is an independent candidate contesting the Dec 5 National Assembly elections from the third constituency. He has been running in elections since 1999 and was elected several times, but didn’t succeed in reaching the parliament during the previous elections in 2016.

“The last parliament was an experience for citizens after the application of the one-vote election law. This resulted in having new, politically inexperienced MPs, so the general performance of the parliament was weak and people were not satisfied. The decline in performance is reflected in the present elections,” he told Kuwait Times.

“I believe there will be a correction during this election to have a strong parliament that can face local and regional political challenges. We have entered a new era of political work that is expressed in appointing new officials in key positions, such as the judicial council, Amiri Diwan, security institutions and regulatory bodies,” said Omar.

Worst situation
According to him, today we are facing the worst political and economic situation in Kuwait. “The pandemic amplified the impact of the already bad management that is not able to face challenges. Kuwait is now ranked high on the Corruption Perceptions Index, ranked low in the quality of education, and low in economic classification due to bad governmental management. I believe in voter awareness that will be reflected on the day of elections on December 5, 2020,” he pointed out.

Kuwait’s challenges are not different from other countries. “Even before the pandemic, we suffered from a general decline in state institutions – the pandemic exacerbated the problem and revealed the poor management of the government in all fields. The health issue was its priority, yet the results of health precautions were not satisfactory and cost hundreds of millions of dinars due to floundering health procedures compared to other countries around the world. This was reflected on the economy,” Omar stated.

“The government was not able to study this situation and find solutions for all the problems through a clear strategy. Until today, there is no committee to deal with these problems, except for some reactions to what’s published on social media. This failure and negligence has destroyed the private sector. Even the public sector will be negatively affected by this negligence, and the oil sector is one of the main victims. Infrastructure, water and electricity and public projects were all strongly affected,” stressed Omar.

Delayed projects
Delays in state oil projects are financially damaging, but the government is not revealing these losses, he alleged. “We have been facing a drop in our financial and economic position during the past six months. This will affect the strength of the currency, cost of borrowing, strength of economy and the cost of insuring these projects. The government won’t be able to treat these problems in the future,” he said.

“The government emptied the General Reserve Fund and assets became zero, and the value of the Future Generations’ Fund has dropped as it failed to return funds. The government today suggests taking on a public debt of KD 20 billion to pay salaries, which make up 70 percent of this amount. The government doesn’t have any other options in the present time to save the economy after it decided to use the profits and savings of oil companies, which affected their financial strength,” Omar explained.

“We wonder how we can trust the government if it takes on public debt that it won’t spend it the wrong way as it did with other funds. It’s not acceptable that the budget is KD 24 billion in these circumstances, while the government is proposing to borrow with the same administration and strategy. Loans will be hard to pay back in the future with low oil production and prices. There should be a clear strategy in spending by eliminating corruption,” he noted.

Squandering of funds
Omar demanded squandering of funds should be stopped. “There are many unnecessary institutions in the country. We are facing an extraordinary situation, so needless bodies should be merged. For instance, there are many identical institutions such as the Public Authority for Roads and Transport and Ministry of Public Works, the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority and Ministry of Communications, Internal Audit Office and State Audit Bureau, and many others, which don’t have real results. These are useless bodies that affect our budget,” he told Kuwait Times.

“The poor quality of education can be improved by cooperating with advanced schools and educational institutions in Europe and the US, instead of importing teachers from abroad while schools are only operating online. Unfortunately, decisions are based on reactions to a tweet on social media,” Omar rued.

“Our economy is losing from the bad decision of the 14-day quarantine. UAE, Turkey, Bahrain and other countries have benefited from these decisions and are making money out of the thousands of passengers staying in their hotels. We need consultants, engineers and other experts for some projects from abroad and they are not able to come to Kuwait due to the health restrictions.

Small enterprises are an example of the government’s failure during this crisis. The government lost its investments in these projects, while entrepreneurs lost their means of livelihood, along with other people working in these businesses,” concluded Omar.