KUWAIT: Kuwait’s state budget is expected to have a deficit of around KD 22 billion for the next three years as a result of plummeting oil prices, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh said yesterday. That would average to a KD 7.3 billion annual deficit.
Kuwait’s fiscal position has deteriorated as a result of lower energy prices. After compulsory transfers to its sovereign Future Generations Fund, and excluding investment income, IMF projections indicate the country’s overall fiscal balance narrowed from a 34.7 percent surplus in 2013/14 to 17.3 percent in 2014/15, reported Oxford Business Group in a 2015 special report on Kuwait’s economy.
In a speech during a national conference on priorities, Saleh, who is also Acting Oil Minister, said that that the government is hard at work to implement a long-term economic vision that aims to diversify the country’s sources of revenue. Public expenditure has risen to unprecedented levels, reaching KD 21.4 billion for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Saleh said, adding that the expenditure had never previously exceeded KD 4 billion. Moreover, the Finance Minister said that the government aims to introduce financial and economic reforms that would help diversify the country’s sources of income, which would, in turn, ensure economic stability. All signs indicate that oil prices are on their way downwards, Saleh noted, saying that “we should all learn to cope with dwindling oil prices for the immediate future.”
Meanwhile, the Acting Oil Minister predicted that Kuwait’s state budget for the fiscal year 2016-2017 is expected to sustain a deficit of KD 12.2 billion. “An increase in deficit puts us at risk, particularly, it creates mounting debt,” Saleh noted. Elaborating on planned economic reforms, Saleh said that a package of 41 programs consisting of development projects is in the works, adding that the government is working with various partners to help bring those projects to fruition.
In his speech, Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah said that “the Ministry of Information, bearing the nation’s best interest in mind, has implemented a series of new initiatives.” He also underscored the importance of media, saying that it has now become an indispensable tool for society. New measures have been taken to focus on development projects and availability of fundamental necessities such as education and healthcare, Sheikh Salman noted. “It is imperative to protect society from all ills,” he added. – KUNA and agencies