For the last couple of months, we are all hearing rumors here and there in diwaniyas, social media and gatherings about the government’s intention to lift all subsidies on fuel, food, water, electricity, etc. Many have questioned whether the impact will be fairly distributed on citizens and expats or if the latter will bear the brunt.
First of all, I’m against any price rises or subsidy removals. Because the study that suggested such measures was done in 2013 – before the drop in oil prices which happened recently. So what’s the big idea of saying that the government will save around KD 1 billion. What about the hundreds of billions of dollars in budget surpluses Kuwait has seen in these last two decades? And what about the revenue and profits from Kuwait’s ‘investment income’, which is not included in the budget (which is only based on oil revenues)?
So lifting subsidies isn’t really necessary in my opinion because Kuwait has plenty of money – thank God – and is not really truly facing a budget deficit as we hear every day from the government and what is published every day in the media. This talk, which has reached every gathering and every diwaniya and every chai daha (midmorning tea), is about budget concerns. It’s on our mind, day and night, and it has become the talk of the town and has a bad effect on the market. And we can see it. No one nowadays is selling or buying. The market is stagnant and everyone is scared and lacking confidence. This despite massive untouched financial reserves and a planned new government spending spree on mega projects.
So can for God’s sake one government spokesman come out and tell us directly what’s going on? What is the decision and why? Show us all the budgets and we don’t mind any decision if Kuwait is really suffering – we are all there for Kuwait. I’m sure all of us would contribute.
But enough with the rumors and the threats and the fear mongering.
By Badrya Darwish