The Financial Reform Plan and Diabetes
Sammy stumbled on the sidewalk and fell bumping his head on the pavement. The passersby rushed to help him and bandage his bleeding forehead, and then went off happy that they had reversed this man’s misfortune. But, in reality, their treatment was superficial, for they only addressed its pressing visible aspect, and in temporary manner. They did not look for the root problem or its causes. Similarly, the proposed Kuwait Financial Reform Plan addresses the pressing visible budget deficit, and in a temporary manner. It delivers an accounting or bookkeeping solution to a very complex problem.
As this was not the first time that Sammy had stumbled, his family implored him to seek medical help. Heeding their advice, he visited a doctor, who after extensive examination and lab tests, concluding that Sammy was suffering from diabetes, and prescribed appropriate medication. We do not see detailed examinations in the reform plan that identify the root problems of the deficit and the weakness of the economy. Nor does it present in-depth analysis supported by financial figures. It does not offer different solution options, each with its own pros and cons justifications. In short, the plan does not contain thorough financial analysis that eliminates all doubts regarding its seriousness, validity and that it not just another bout of trial-and-error experimentation.
Sammy was then sent to the clinic nurse, who taught him about his medication, its doses, and how to ingest it. She also demonstrated how to sterilize the insulin injection and inject himself in the stomach. These administrative and procedural steps are essential for the successful implementation of any treatment program. Unfortunately, the reform plan does not cover this all-important aspect that would give comfort regarding the existing civil service cadres’ administrative and operational capability to implement the plan recommendations. It would be tragic if their inaptness negated the expected benefits of the treatment, thus worsening the illness.
After that, Sammy returned to the Doctor who called-in a nutritionist to drill into him the importance of changing his lifestyle, identify the foods to avoid, how and when to eat, and the exercises he must introduce into his daily life. This, he was informed, is complimentary to his medication and ensures its efficacy. He was also, very seriously, warned that any negligence in changing his lifestyle will deteriorate the effectiveness of the medicines, and cause the diabetes to worsen, affecting his heart, raise his blood pressure, lead to renal kidney failure, ocular damage and loss of vision and, lastly, he will begin to lose his limbs to gangrene, followed by death. This lifestyle change corresponds to the economic analysis and solutions that are missing in the plan. Their role is to reform the economy and ensure its long life, or in today’s terms, ensure sustainability.
Before Sammy left the clinic, the doctor drew up a schedule for monthly checkup visits and tests to assess his progress, and to make any necessary adjustments or alterations. The reform plan fails to provide such milestones, timetables and performance assessment indicators, through which adjustments and improvements can be made.
Of course, after all this trouble, Sammy can still get run over by a car in the street! But this would be a random external event, and can be attended to immediately as per available capabilities. Nevertheless, it would be wise to cover unforeseen eventualities with alternative plans A, B, C, etc., so as not to be caught totally off-guard, and lose rare opportunities. Here too, the plan ignores alternative plans and sub-plans.
They say haste is from the Devil… while wisdom calls for careful planning and study.