Middle East

New Government, New Beginnings

Times Kuwait Report

The beginning of August saw a flurry of political activity. This month, His Highness Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah decreed to confer the title of “Her Highness” on Prime Minister’s nominee Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah started with -mackerel. Later in the day, His Highness the Amir also announced another decree authorizing the formation of a new Cabinet headed by His Highness the Prime Minister. His 12-member cabinet, made up of former cabinet ministers and several newcomers, took the oath of office before His Highness the Amir.

On August 2, the solemn anniversary of the Iraqi army’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, His Highness Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabaf issued an order to dissolve the National Assembly. The decree, which follows the announcement of the new cabinet, was promulgated by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince based on the constitutional powers granted to him by the Amiri Decree of 15 November 2021.

Also on August 2, the newly formed Cabinet thanked His Highness the Amir and the Crown Prince at an inaugural meeting held at the Seif Palace and chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister. they carry out their duties. In a statement issued after the ministerial meeting, Deputy Prime Minister, Oil Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Mohammad Alfarez said in his address to the cabinet that the prime minister needed to carry out the wise instructions given by him. said to have emphasized His Highness the Chief and His Highness the Crown Prince.

Among other things, the Directive called on the Cabinet to redouble its efforts to accelerate development, meet the expectations of the people, respect the Constitution, and solve the challenges faced by citizens. Advancing the country’s development process and safeguarding its stability by striving to provide quality services to its citizens while addressing the serious challenges it faces and eradicating all forms of corruption. I urged

Furthermore, on the 32nd anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the Cabinet once again expressed its gratitude to the friendly nations who contributed to the liberation of the country and the restoration of its international legitimacy, sovereignty, freedom and dignity. On this painful anniversary, the Cabinet also urged the people of Kuwait to “maintain the security and stability of our country, stand united and serve our country under the leadership of His Highness Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Jaber.” Al-Sabah and His Highness Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Crown Prince.

It was at the core of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince’s statement after the dissolution of the Diet that the executive and legislative branches work together to serve the interests of the people and the country. The statement said the order dissolving parliament “represents a lack of harmony and cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as the political climate, which includes continued disagreements, conflicts, personal interests, and failure to accept.” It was necessary to rectify the Practices and behaviors that undermine national unity, plus others. ”

The Crown Prince’s statement added: best profit. The Kuwaiti Constitution obliges that if the parliament is dissolved, he shall hold new elections for a new parliament within a period not exceeding two months from the date of dissolution. In light of this constitutional law, the next general election is currently scheduled to take place by October.

In comments on the country’s changing political environment, some members of the dissolved parliament agreed that the interests of the country and its people were on par, but this required a complete rethink on the part of the executive branch. Former parliamentarian Ahmad Al-Azemi described the current period as “a decisive stage in Kuwait’s history” and said that achieving stability in Kuwait will depend on the mistakes of the past. He added that a new government was needed to avoid

Similarly, former parliamentarian Khaled Al-Otaibi said the incoming prime minister would take over a major task to reform what the previous government destroyed. He says it is “unprecedented” and will influence the form and function of the next cabinet. Also, former liberal parliamentarian Saleh Al-Mullah added his voice to the debate, warning that the main aim of the new cabinet is to abandon the appointment of old-style ministers.

Summing up the events that led to the formation of the new government, former Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, who has been in power since December 2019, has this year elected 26 opposition lawmakers — the required quorum. Two more — after declaring their intention to support a non-cooperation motion presented to the prime minister by opposition lawmakers following a parliamentary inquiry into alleged mismanagement of the government.

The Prime Minister’s resignation was subsequently accepted by His Majesty, who asked Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled to continue as interim prime minister until a new prime minister was appointed. Last month, in a speech delivered on behalf of Crown Prince Naruhito, the emir said he had decided to dissolve parliament, a key demand from the opposition, and to call for a new poll “within a few months”. rice field.

Opposition parties in parliament welcomed the Amiri speech delivered by the crown prince and urged the leadership to introduce fundamental changes and appoint a new prime minister to reform the way the government operates. With opposition proposals for the dissolution of parliament and a new prime minister now meeting, it remains to be seen whether political reconciliation and cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of the government will materialize in the coming weeks or months. .

Unlike most other countries in the six-country bloc of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Kuwait has an elected parliament, and citizens elect their representatives through a general election process. The country’s constitution also gives parliamentarians more discretionary powers than other states, giving them the right to exercise full oversight of the government’s work and to question ministers about perceived shortcomings. It even gives them the power to remove ministers by passing a “no confidence” motion against them. in parliament.

However, due to the powers and privileges granted to parliament and parliamentarians, Kuwait suffers from political paralysis resulting from persistent conflicts between the appointed government and the elected parliament. It has also prevented the government from implementing many of its policies and enacting much-needed economic and administrative reforms.

Also, in contrast to most other GCC countries, which are agile and dynamic in adapting to challenges, Kuwait’s progress remains hampered by controversial ties between government and legislative bodies. government.

But Kuwait can no longer afford to maintain this status quo in political relations between the two branches of government in parliament. The current steep decline in revenues due to rising oil prices presents the country with an opportunity to introduce and implement policy and structural reforms considered essential to ensure sustained growth in the country.

Missing this opportunity could have far-reaching consequences that could affect the long-term sustainable growth of the country and the future of generations to come. A honeymoon could easily turn out to be temporary if geopolitical events evolve, derailing the current scenario of high oil prices in the region and internationally.

Nonetheless, the current rise in global oil prices and Kuwait’s daily increase in oil production have made the country’s economic outlook considerably brighter. A windfall in oil earnings of well over US$100 a barrel would give the government more room to operate, replenish the depleted General Reserve that acts as the national treasury, and cut back on years of repeated fiscal deficits. Allows you to recoup some of the losses sustained over time.

According to an economic report from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Kuwait’s GDP is expected to grow by 7% in 2022 compared to a poor 2.5% growth recorded in 2021. The oil sector, which accounts for more than half of the country’s GDP and is the main engine of the economy, is expected to register 11.8% growth on an annual basis. This growth is largely due to higher oil prices in general and oil production by OPEC and non-OPEC allies next month.

The report also notes that the non-oil sector, which has been stagnant in recent years, is expected to grow 4.7% this year on the back of rising consumer spending and strong property sales. The ICAEW report concludes that Kuwait’s financial situation in 2022 will be much brighter than in previous years. The current high prices can lead very well to Kuwait’s current budget. This is based on a conservative break-even estimate of $65 per barrel, marking the first surplus in years.

But a bright economy is no consolation for the country’s continuing pervasive political predicament. With the dates for his second general election, which will be held in less than two years, expected to be announced soon, vote-weary citizens will learn the real reasons for Kuwait’s continued political weakening, and the effects. They are beginning to question the inability of countries to introduce meaningful economic diversification. Promote youth employment and promote sustainable growth and development.

Many believe, belatedly, that the current socio-economic and political paralysis engulfing the country cannot be attributed solely to the personal shortcomings of individual Cabinet leaders or ministers, but to deeper structural flaws. There is no shortage of proposed solutions to these deep-seated ailments, but to implement the remedies, the hitherto lacking The fact remains that such decisive action is needed. The question now is, will anything be different this time?

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