Kuwaiti Ruler Makes Unprecedented Call for Dialogue Amid Impasse
(Bloomberg) -- Kuwait’s ruler took the unprecedented step of instructing cabinet ministers and lawmakers to sit down to resolve a political stalemate that has blocked urgently needed fiscal reform.
Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah called for a national dialogue aimed at “directing all energies and capabilities to serve the country and solve all problems,” state-run KUNA reported on Wednesday, citing Emiri Diwan Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah.
The emir’s initiative follows years of political tensions that have stymied efforts to diversify the country’s oil-reliant economy and promote foreign investment. The economic fallout from the stalled reform has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The cabinet and parliament haven’t been able to agree on legislation that would let the energy-rich country cover its budget deficit by borrowing in overseas markets, or dipping into its $700 billion sovereign wealth fund. Liquid assets in the treasury were almost entirely depleted last year amid the impasse.
Lawmakers have said the government should better manage its finances and fight corruption before resorting to debt. Earlier this year, the emir issued a decree postponing parliament meetings for a month amid the tensions.
Opposition lawmakers, who gained ground in the December parliamentary election, are also pushing for political reforms, including an amnesty for exiled opposition figures. Kuwait has had 17 governments and eight elections since 2006.
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