A third of Arab youth believe it is duty of their governments to pay off the debts of all citizens, according to the results of the latest ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey.
The results of the annual survey, which has been running since 2008, were released on Tuesday. It includes 3,300 face-to-face interviews with Arab youth aged 18 to 24 years. Interviews were carried out between January 6 and 29 in 15 Arab states, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Yemen.
The results found that over half of respondents (57 percent) said the rising cost of living is the biggest challenge facing the Middle East today – followed by unemployment (45 percent) and slow economic growth (31 percent) – and governments are not doing enough to address the situation.
The sentiment differed from region to region, with 83 percent in the Levant believing that their country is not doing enough to help young families, compared to 39 percent in the GCC.
When asked what areas they believed it was the responsibility of their government to provide, 98 percent said safety and security, 89 percent said education, 78 percent said jobs and 60 percent said housing.
At the same time, 33 percent said it was the government’s responsibility to cover their financial debt repayments. Again, this varied from region to region, with 36 percent in the GCC believing their governments had a duty to pay off the debts of all citizens, while only 20 percent of respondents in the Levant agreed with this view.
Governments clearing citizens' debt is not a new phenomenon, especially in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti parliament approved a controversial law in 2013 to clear some citizens’ personal debts, while it also did the same in 1991 and 1982, according to Reuters.
Mustafa Al Shimali, the deputy prime minister and finance minister, objected to the move, saying at the time it “would be too costly and would set a dangerous precedent for future borrowers,” The National reported in 2013.
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