The issue of streamlining expenditure and cutting down subsidies has resurfaced after the recent report of government’s financial consultant, Earnest & Young, and the visit of President of the Executive Board of World Bank Dr Merza Hassan who met with the Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al- Ghanim.
Hassan has warned the State of Kuwait on what he described as ‘dark economic situation’ in future if the government delays in applying economic and financial reform. He confirmed the social contract between the government and the nation should be changed to open a dialogue on future steps for controlling the budget to include the citizen in the process of change.
He further stressed the need to carry out economic reform, pointing to great challenges in the way particularly after the country lost one third of its income to the declining oil prices, and constituting a burden on the general budget. He further informed the Parliament Speaker on the need to heed the warnings of World Bank and follow the example of GCC countries to reform the economy.
He added Kuwait has several options to deal with the budget deficit by withdrawing from its reserve or borrow or preserve expenditures.
Meanwhile, several lawmakers have already expressed reservations concerning the intention of government to remove subsidies from some services and oil products. MP Saleh Ashour asserted that government should start reviewing public expenditures by suspending anything that could become financial burden such as consultations and training, in addition to local and foreign courses. He also cited unnecessary official missions, participation in its activities overseas, petty cash in the ministries for undersecretaries and senior officials, cost of phone calls, fuels, overtime, and committees.
In the same vein, MPs Mansour Al- Zoufairi, Askar Al-Anzi, Fares Al-Otaibi and Sultan Allughaisam expressed their objection to the recommendations circulated in the media on Sunday.
Al-Zufairi is of the view that the government should source for an alternative toward streamlining expenditures in a way that will not affect ordinary citizens and their rights as enshrined in the constitution. He urged the government to show seriousness in the effort to increase non oil revenues.
MP Al-Anzi cautioned against taking steps that are detrimental to living conditions and financial status of citizens. He reaffirmed, as a representative of the people, his objection to removing of subsidies or certain entitlements offered to citizens.
He called for the government to discourage wastage of public funds while finding other alternative solutions that will have no adverse implications on citizens. MP Al-Otaibi described the recommendations as absolutely unacceptable. “Creating extra financial burden on citizens is unacceptable and we’ll never accept it.”