The National Bank of Kuwait has called for the government to push ahead with its plans increase the role of the private sector in the state’s development plans.

“We agree with the government that it is time for the private sector to take the lead in building Kuwait’s economy, just as it did in the past before the first oil boom,” said Shaikha al-Bahar, deputy chief executive officer, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), at MEED’s 2010 Kuwait Projects Conference on 29 November.

Kuwait’s private sector accounted for 75 per cent of the country’s economic activity about 50 years ago, with this figure dropping to 20 per cent by 2000.

“Unfortunately, the public sector became a tool for the distribution of oil wealth, not only in the provision of services such as healthcare and education, but also through employment,” said Al-Bahar.

The Kuwait Vision 2035 plan seeks to diversify Kuwait’s economy away from its dependence on its oil reserves and transform Kuwait into a financial and trade hub for investment. One of the key strategic goals of the plan is to increase private sector growth in order to achieve higher gross domestic product (GDP) and standards of living.

Al-Bahar says the key elements of the 2035 plan will only be met effectively if the role of the private sector is increased in Kuwait’s plans to develop its infrastructure and economy.

“Diversification and job creation can only happen with a vibrant private sector,” said Al-Bahar.

“The private sector needs to be kept squarely in mind when drafting new laws, setting up new firms or executing and financing megaprojects.”