The nation’s financial and economic reform plan does not embody any notion of privatizing oil and gas production or education or health services or selling government assets to individuals or firms that may monopolize them, said Deputy Premier, Finance Minister and acting oil minister Anas Al-Saleh yesterday.
Moreover, the reform plan does not give the government a free hand in changing or amending current laws without first referring any such action to lawmakers, said the minister in a press statement. He added that some parts of the reform plan, which was endorsed by the Cabinet on March 14, only require ministerial decrees for their implementation and nothing more.
This plan is a government obligation for financial and economic reforms in accordance with the goals set for the nation’s development plan for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which the lawmakers approved on June 17, 2015, he pointed out. It is also a constitutional and legal obligation to preserve the resources and wealth of the nation and public funds in an effort to abide by the constitutional requirement to achieve the goals of the development plan.
Saleh said that there has been much chatter about the subject of privatizing basic public services, noting that the government has no plans to abdicate its obligation to provide the public with all basic benefits and services. The government, he assured, will not sell its assets to individuals or companies that may monopolize them. In this vein, he said the government stands by article 4 of law no. 37 of 2010 which specifically states that “no privatization is allowed of oil and natural gas production or oil refineries or education or health”.
However, he added the reform plan supports preserving the nation’s resources in all sectors and only seeks better management of them. Saleh added that the reform plan, while eschewing privatization, seeks to channel public services into shareholding public companies in which the public will be a major shareholder along with the government, which will perform monitoring duties to ensure that the door is open for competition.
Among the salient features of the reform plan, he said, is the imperative of protecting current jobs for Kuwaiti nationals and creating more job opportunities for them. He stressed that the reform plan would only be implemented after it is voted on by lawmakers, and welcomed observations about the plan from the lawmakers or economists or members of the public.