In recent years the Kuwait government has been accused of not putting up enough fight against corruption. The government is responding to that call and is planning a detailed strategy to weed out corruption to help position the country as an attractive hub for global businesses. According to the Kuwait labour Minister, the country is determined to get rid of any corruption to avoid tainting its name abroad, which may deter investors from coming.
Since 2017, the country started a plan to improve Kuwait’s position on international corruption indicators. The fight against corruption comes when the news of Russian businesswoman Marsha Lazareva, one of the top KGL executives, has spread the world over corruption and fraud allegation. The new strategy is designed to be implemented within one years’ time. Minister for social affairs Hind Al Sabeeh, who also runs economic affairs docket, said the implementation process is being pushed to give investors’ confidence about the business environment in Kuwait.
The Minister for social affairs was addressing delegates at the Kuwait Investment Forum about how the new strategy will boost investors’ confidence and trust when doing their business in Kuwait. Kuwait dropped sharply from the rankings in Transparency International’s Annual Corruption perceptions Index in recent years to position 85 out of the 180 in 2017 from 75th position back in 2016. The reports are bad for the country’s reputation, and only in 2013, the ranking was standing at 43rd position.
The negative statistics prompted Transparency International, which is the best-known campaigner against global corruption, suspended the Kuwait Transparency Society (KTS) back in 2015. The recent ranking is of great concern as that may send negative signals against the Kuwait government, which is planning to seek other revenue sources away from oil dependence.
It has not been a smooth journey for Kuwait since the invasion by the former Iraq President Saddam Hussein in 1990. The country’s hydrocarbon revenues account for about 90% of revenues. And due to the 2015 fiscal deficit the country experienced, Kuwait is now focusing on how to fulfill the 2035 vision by encouraging the private sector to get involved in building the country’s economy. Also, plans are underway to lure foreign investment across various ICT sector, housing, healthcare, renewable energy, transport and tourism.
Corruption is one perception that may prevent such an achievement from happening, but Kuwait’s Minister of interior Sheikh Kaled Al Sabah suspended several senior employees until further notice, plus the government designed a way to reinstate a local Transparency International chapter by forming a committee. The opposition declares the proposal as useless though terming the move as impossible in the face of rampant corruption going around in the country.
According to Ms. Al Sabeeh, when addressing Kuwait Investment Forum, said that a key plank of the Nazahe’d anti-corruption plan is to have all government business transactions and services digitized to help curb to enhance transparency. The use of technology is seen as the only effective way to reduce cases of corruption, especially in the keeping of records and making payments, which are the most affected areas.
According to Ms. Al Sabeeh, the initiative will be started to enhance the number of transactions and services get administered electronically by the government. This is seen as one of the effective mechanisms that will help to counter any corruption issues.