On a trip through a Gulf squeezed by low oil prices, the head of the International Monetary Fund repeatedly called on countries to cut back on subsidies, lower government spending and consider levying taxes.
But implementing Christine Lagarde’s suggestions is easier said than done in the oil-rich countries, even as crude prices have dropped by over 50 percent since last year.
Generations have grown used to cradle-to-grave social programs, comfortable government jobs and tax-free living. While Gulf leaders, including those in Kuwait, have begun warning harder times may be ahead, some citizens remain opposed to any cuts.
“Almost every week we hear about Kuwait giving grants left, right and center to other nations that are in need of money. It’s as if the government doesn’t realize that we, in Kuwait, are also in need,” said Abdulaziz Al-Adwani, a Kuwaiti school teacher. “It’s not logical to start imposing a tax on citizens when the government can afford to give grants to this country and that country.”