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Short-tem solution not an answer to Jleeb problems

KUWAIT: The Minister of State for Municipal Affairs stated that the Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh has become a difficult-to-treat case, and the choice of the committee formed to study its conditions is a radical solution, or a proposal to expropriate its remaining part at an approximate cost of KD 1.432 billion. The population of that area is nearly 274,025 according to the latest report of the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI). The population of Kuwait reached 4.824 million people at the end of June 2023 according to the same source.

This means that an area of only 8,281 square kilometers, or about 1 percent of the inhabited area of the country, which is about 15 percent of its total area, is inhabited by 5.7 percent of Kuwait’s population. In other words, one out of every 17.5 persons in Kuwait lives in that very small area. Dealing with this issue comprises two parameters. The first is jumping to easy solutions or the financial treatment. The danger of this lies in resorting to burying the visible part of the problem in the short term, instead of confronting the serious violations.

The expropriation cost is about KD 1.432 billion which is preferred without any approach at the state level for its alternative uses. Nor does it consider the additional huge sums of money required to complete the project after expropriation. Nor does it consider the doors it could open to demand the same. We do not believe that there is a prior plan to deal with the re-absorption of about 5.7 percent of Kuwait’s population once that area is evacuated apart from the talk about a labor city project that may take a long time to complete, or the case with the university building, the airport and even the Derwazat Abd Al-Razzaq project, or simply repairing the streets.

The second parameter, which is more dangerous, is that the government has known about the Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh issue and its problems for a long time when its problems were small. The absence of proactive thinking and dealing with those problems in Kuwait gradually exacerbated them until they became difficult to solve. If it were the only problem, it would be easy to solve, but these are problems that start small but are neglected so that they grow. The list of such problems is too long; therefore, it is enough to cite examples such as the horizontal housing expansion whose continuation is impossible.

Other examples include the following: demographic structure, especially gender, the lagging of education for many years, the citizen labor market, with its disguised unemployment that exceeds half of its numbers, the probable inability of the Public Institution for Social Security to meet retirees’ future entitlements, and tolerance with forgery of nationality and higher education certificates. The latest of these is the exceptional salaries scandal. All of the above problems and many more require a comparison between them regarding their priority and solutions and the decision to expropriate Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh.

All of them need a proactive confrontation so as not to become incurable ruin for Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh. All of them are on the way to ruin if the government continues to postpone confronting them. They also include the impossibility of sustaining public finance and the sustainability of the economy. When a country announces a vision or a government announces a program, all relevant issues must be on the table with a differentiation that determines priorities according to importance and the abundance of available financial and human resources to confront them. Unfortunately, in Kuwait, visions and programs are beautiful on paper, but the reality is that every ministry, or even a committee, is capable of taking the country toward its priority, even if it contradicts the contents of the vision papers and programs.

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