Monday, March 12, 2007

The Bottleneck

It was interesting observing the blame game in the Second Private Sector Conference organized by Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry under the title Economic Reform: Repeated Talk and Delayed Decision (الإصلاح الإقتصادي: كلام مكرر وقرار مؤجل).

There was a lot of pointing fingers: the government, the parliament, the private sector, the Chamber, even individuals unwilling to engage in productive work and preferring government jobs. One interesting observation was made by Mohammad Al-Shaya of the retail Al-Shaya Group. He observed that 55% of his company's staff in Saudi are nationals, 65% in Bahrain but the number is much less in Kuwait. He also observed that the number of female nationals working for his company in Saudi exceeds that in Kuwait. This is due to Kuwaitis' preference for desk jobs in the government or certain sectors such as banking and investment that carry prestige.

It was so good to see Dr. Ahmed Al-Rubai speak again after his absence. He slammed the government for wrongfully dealing with the private sector, especially that some of those private sector companies are gaining international prominence.

There is no doubt that economic reform is a shared responsibility between all parties concerned whether it is government, parliament, private sector and even individuals. However, as the saying goes, the bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle!

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