Could basic income move Kuwait towards a more sustainable economy?

Ali Al-Salim writes for on ways for Kuwait to build a more sustainable economy in the wake of declining oil prices and growing expenses. .

Ali Al-Salim writes for on ways for Kuwait to build a more sustainable economy in the wake of declining oil prices and growing expenses. 

28 September 2020, Kuwait: Newly founded, a gateway for public policy papers in Kuwait, today released an essay suggesting new solutions to Kuwait’s fiscal woes. Titled “New Ideas for Kuwait”, Kuwaiti Author Ali Al-Salim proposes the replacement of all government subsidies with an annual basic income of around USD 50,000, paid to every citizen of working age, as a means to overcome the hiring burden for the government, and the economic and political bottlenecks of the existing system. He argues that the net result will move Kuwait towards a more sustainable economy, relieve the pressure on the government to accept every job application, and end wasteful spending overnight. 

In his paper, investment consultant Al-Salim takes stock of Kuwait’s fiscal and economic issues, asserting that consecutive budget deficits since 2014 have now entirely eroded Kuwait’s treasury. With oil income looking weaker and expenditures growing, the state’s budget figures simply do not balance and shortfalls are set to become larger. He says, articles in the Kuwaiti Constitution guaranteeing government jobs for nationals have over the years created a bloated public sector, and any government plans for economic reform are usually met with objection by Kuwait’s elected parliament.

Al-Salim proposes fresh solutions to Kuwait’s long-standing problems, his proposals are unconventional to say the least. He puts forth an argument that the Kuwaiti government should utilize existing stipend schemes to provide all adult citizens with unconditional annual salaries of USD 50,000 per adult under no time commitment, a scheme commonly referred to as Universal Basic Income in economic circles. Al-Salim argues this process will optimize wealth distribution in compliance with the Kuwaiti constitution without the need to create any more jobs in the bloated public sector. This new incentive, he argues in his paper, should make way for new structural reforms for the government to undertake that include privatization, market liberalization and subsidy overhaul.

“With a lighter burden to create unproductive clerical jobs, it alleviates the pressure on the government to absorb citizens into ministries already suffocating from bureaucracy,” says Al-Salim, stating that his proposal is an “effective and feasible solution for Kuwait is to streamline the oil-revenue distribution mechanism.”

In “New Ideas for Kuwait” Al-Salim puts forth a radical solution to Kuwait’s chronic economic problems, pushing the reader to explore new possibilities with minimal political backlash from existing political structures, a win-win situation for a country facing great uncertainties.  

About the Author

Ali Al-Salim (@alialsalim) has been an investor and advisor for close to 20 years. His interests include Gulf capital markets, economics, SMEs, entrepreneurship, and corporate governance. His background incorporates experience working at large investment companies both in Kuwait and the United Kingdom. For the past 10 years he has co-managed a successful consulting practice in Kuwait, advising primarily international clients. A frequent commentator on Gulf finance and economics, he spends his time between Kuwait and Dubai. 

The essay “New Ideas for Kuwait” by Ali Al-Salim may be downloaded from

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