Ali Al Matani –
Now and then, we see discussions on the austerity measures taken by the Ministry of Finance to reduce spending and their impact. Veiled criticism against those measures and their effectiveness in bridging the gap between expenditures and revenues prevails in such debates.
Some people do not hesitate to mention names of some figures who issued financial notes on reducing expenses. There are also talks on the cancellation of some job-related privileges and benefits enjoyed by some categories of government employees.
Some of those who criticise do not realise the responsibilities of officials at the Ministry of Finance, who endeavour to strike a balance between declining revenues and growing expenditure. They do not know the psychological and administrative pressure they suffer as a result of these complex calculations and requests from here and there asking them not to cancel or cut some provisions, along with demands to expedite the disbursement of funds and more.
There are many theorists who cannot hold their tongue and stop uttering resentment.
Nevertheless, we must realise certain things:
First, the financial officer, anywhere at any institution, is not liked by many, for his serious stand on financial matters, and for being inflexible in his calculations that try to balance what is available and what is needed.
So some enter into a fight with the finance officials and demand more money than they deserve or need, or in excess of the funding schemes. It is natural that such demands are rejected by financial departments.
It is also natural that some people get offended by this. Everyone blames the Ministry of Finance and its actions to reduce spending. Everyone points fingers at officials for the lack of funds. Some do not even hesitate to mention the officials’ names, accusing them of “closing the tap”, as if they were unaware of the circumstances in which we live, where much depends on oil as the greatest source of income.
Second, the Ministry of Finance is working on achieving a balance between income and expenditure. Its biggest objective is to maintain the financial status of the State, realise stability of the financial situation in the midst of these changing developments and harmonise the two extremes.
Here is the crux. The Ministry of Finance performs its role like any other government or private body and tries to implement its plans for securing the financial situation of the State. This is not a simple responsibility in the current economic conditions and amid great pressure arising out of demands for financial facilities, payment of salaries, fulfilment of contracts, and provision of credits for projects, tenders and other commitments, as well as commitments to international financial institutions. In spite of all that, the ministry is working very nicely. Therefore, we must support it and its employees.
Third, we must be more realistic in dealing with conditions. Today, everyone must spend according their income.
This is what we should understand very well. The government, represented by the Ministry of Finance, spends according to what it has. The ministry refused no demands and never postponed any project. It did not demand cuts or cancellation of benefits. Today the situation is very different from what it was, and we all must consider this.
Fourth, today, none of us can manage the budget of our own home, which may consist of five members. Some of us even feel annoyed, sometimes, by our children’s and wife’s unnecessary expenses. How complex matters would be at the scale of the State finance, which has substantial commitments and fewer resources? We must think of this before criticising finance officials.
Fiscal spending and management is not an easy matter. It involves complex mathematics. Everyone wants to spend without limits, but this can’t be allowed at the level of the government or enterprises.
We understand the financial situation and the need for austerity, which did not affect all and the fundamental aspects of our life. We all have needs and want an economic recovery, but in return we must appreciate the efforts of the Ministry of Finance and its employees. They are more knowledgeable about such aspects than us.
We hope we appreciate the financial conditions experienced by the State, support efforts to preserve our resources, and reduce unnecessary consumption. We must understand the current circumstances that are created by the crisis as well as its consequences.
Greetings to everyone working at the Ministry of Finance for their role in providing necessary financial support and maintaining the financial health of the State.