Interview: Marzouq Ali Al Ghanim
How is the National Assembly cooperating with the government to expedite the legal framework required to reform key economic sectors?
MARZOUQ ALI AL GHANIM: Realising the importance of the economy in providing sustainable prosperity for the citizens of Kuwait, the National Assembly has addressed economic issues seriously and vigorously. The assembly has passed legislation aimed at activating the economy and overcoming many of the obstacles and hurdles we faced in the past. One such measure was the amendment of the law on partnerships between the public and private sectors to allow this model to be a major contributor to the development process.
The assembly has also passed a new law for commercial agencies that would allow for greater competition and break up the domination of the few, which we believe is in the best interest of the citizen. A new, more modern, law for the Central Tenders Committee has also been passed – after being shelved for more than 20 years – to allow the nation to keep up with economic development around the world. Other recent pieces of legislation include a law on electronic transactions and digital infrastructure to facilitate the issuance of commercial licences, as well as a law allowing foreign banks to open more than one branch in Kuwait in order to better compete with local banks.
Finally, a KD2bn ($6.6bn) fund for supporting small projects has been established to help create jobs and investment opportunities, as all healthy economies are built on strong participation from small and medium-sized enterprises. All of this sets out the framework for economic diversification and growth.
How will measures such as the establishment of an environmental council ensure sustainable development while supporting economic activity?
AL GHANIM: Sustainable development is not confined to the economy, and we as state officials must also take into consideration the social, cultural, political and legal aspects of every piece of legislation. The protection of the environment, as well as the protection of the individual – and society as a whole – from any potential harm, is of utmost concern when considering new legislation. The National Assembly, therefore, has passed a law to protect the environment and keep up with modern, global guidelines and requirements. It holds those who harm the environment accountable and outlines a number of technical specifications for industries across many sectors in an effort to reduce waste and pollution. This law will have a positive impact on the economy as it will open a new window for green industries.
What further steps can the National Assembly take to ensure stable political and business foundations that instil investor confidence?
AL GHANIM: Anyone who reads history and studies the experiences of developed and developing nations realises that the basis for any good economy is political stability. Therefore, we in the National Assembly have strived to get the process back on track, as the founding fathers wanted. The principle in our work is to extend a hand of cooperation to the government, and to make differences in opinion from the government the exception rather than the rule. However, cooperation does not mean complacency and should be based on sound legal and constitutional grounds.
It is necessary to emphasise that Kuwait is a state of real institutions that are based on a constitution which is active, vibrant and respected by all, and one which regulates the work allotted to different authorities. Differences, no matter how deep, should stay within this framework and cause no concern as is the case in all democratic states. The Emir of Kuwait has confirmed on many occasions his respect for the constitution and for the fact that judicial rulings should be upheld and the law applied equally. It is on this stable foundation that the nation will thrive.
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