Kuwait Fund, Kuwait Foreign Aid
|Monday, 15 March 2010 17:39|
Interview with Abdulwahab Al Bader
How do you assess the global economic situation?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: It is a unique world experience that has affected everyone for better and for worse. For the past year and a half everyone has been affected in different ways. The world will come out of this situation with an experience that will be helpful for understanding the future and finding solutions to overcome similar problems.
What is your assessment of Kuwait’s economy?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: The Kuwaiti economy and the Gulf region is very well suited to overcome these kind of problems. My concern is for the developing countries in the world.
Since the inception of the Kuwait Fund you have given more than 700 loans to more than 100 countries totaling more than 3.8 million KD and technical assistance packages to 88 countries totaling more than 98 million KD.
Is the global economic downturn influencing your investment behavior?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: Yes, to certain extent. We are always affected by what is happening around us in the world. When countries are affected you can see what kinds of programs they then require and can act accordingly. Currently, certainly there are financial problems. So the countries we assist face problems in obtaining financing. By providing recipient countries with additional resources they would overcome their problems.
What are the major challenges facing the Kuwait Fund?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: One of the biggest challenges that we are facing is to try to find the right projects in countries where we operate. Sometime you tailor your program to a specific project in the recipient countries but not always can you make these projects so readily available due to in country challenges. Over the years we have programmed ourselves in discussions with other countries and then new problems arise and the planned project becomes thwarted. One example of this is in 2000 the Kuwait Fund put education and social projects as a priority. We were in discussions with a country to create schools for young girls and to build maternity hospitals. We spent a few months in
discussions and started researching how to go ahead with the project but by the time everything was ready, the priorities changed in the country due to economic difficulties. In the end we, of course, were obliged to the requests of the government, and we had to start a new project to adjust to their new priorities although we didn’t forget about our initial social priorities.
The Kuwait Fund is known for its constant interest in helping and improving standards for those less fortunate which was manifested on numerous occasions internationally. How do you envision the Kuwait Fund’s role in helping those less fortunate and contributing to economic development?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: If Kuwait Fund finds a project that will help the overall population and the greater good of the country Kuwait Fund trys to make a commitment to it. Over the years Kuwait Fund has found different projects that may be negligible to some people but affect the poor or hard laborers who have not received proper assistance in these remote regions. In one country Kuwait Fund financed an irrigation project in an area that depended on rain fed crops once a year. Kuwait Fund came in with the local government and prepared an irrigation project where we pulled water from a near by river and brought it to the nearest valley to their area. It allowed them to come into the valley and live in suitable environment. These small projects allow you to see the positive reactions of the recipients and this is something we enjoy and strive to do. Its not always visible to us but you can always see some direct success. As for Kuwait foreign policy, yes Kuwait Fund's actions are alligned with Kuwait foreign policy.
What is the role of the Kuwait Fund in the global and Kuwaiti economy?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: On the Kuwaiti economy the Kuwait Fund will likely have minimal effect. We try to assist on different issues in Kuwait, for example, like the Kuwait Fund program titled “Training Kuwaiti Engineers” where we train Kuwaitis and introduce them to corporations that we have relationships with. In general, however, most of our work is outside Kuwait and around the world. At the global level, we assist in promoting the development of the economies of developing countries, and invest part of our liquid resources in international markets t generate income to augment our resource for lending.
You had expenses and overcharges amounting to 25 million KD and the net loss for 2008 amounted to about one million KD compared to a net income of 208 million KD for 2007, how do you assess your financial performance for 2009 and how confident are you about delivering a better performance for 2010?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: Financially, the whole world had a negative financial performance for 2008. The Kuwait Fund had suffered from the effects in both 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. For 2009-2010 (ending in March 2010) The effect is minimal compared to our resources and it has not affected our operations. In fact, if you look at our accounts we are reaching our targets set by the Board of Directors. Overall, the Kuwait Fund is affected just like everyone else by the recent financial crisis but we are hoping by the end of 2009-2010 to witness better performance.
What are your expansion plans and strategy for the year to come?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: The Kuwait Fund is hoping to present to our Board our latest strategy for the next five years and we are hoping to continue with our current trends and possibly increase our lending level. We have several recommendations to make and the Kuwait Fund would like to continue its efforts in the developing world while trying to strengthen our relations with them. Additionally, I would like to see us expanding our involvement in social and health related projects.
How do you envision the Kuwait Fund in 2015?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: I hope I will be there to see it in 2015. I see the Kuwait Fund as still maintaining its strong position in the region. It has been in existence for 48 years and in 2011 we will celebrate our 50th anniversary. My predecessors have established best practices for conducting our work and cooperation with our developing country partners. The Kuwait Fund was established on proper principles and with the right intentions so hopefully with the good will built within the Kuwait Fund we will continue to stay strong.
To finalize the interview, what is the image the Kuwait Fund would like the world to have of Kuwait?
Kuwait Foreign Aid, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Director General, Abdulwahab Al Bader: Establishing an institution like the Kuwait Fund forty years ago, since our independence in 1961 was one of the first decisions Kuwait made expressing its desire to help others. This has always been a concern of the people of Kuwait. Kuwait has always strived to have good relations with other countries and I believe the Kuwait Fund has over the years, through its close cooperation with developing countries, and its support to development cooperation in general, strengthened relations and friendships with other countries of the world.