Oil price slide hits Kuwait government income

Government revenues in Kuwait dropped 4.4 percent in the first half of the fiscal year due to sliding oil prices

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Government revenues in Kuwait dropped 4.4 percent in the first half of the fiscal year due to sliding oil prices, but the energy-rich emirate still reported a healthy provisional surplus.

Official figures posted Sunday on the Finance Ministry’s website put April-September public income at 15.1 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($52.1 billion) compared with 15.8 billion dinars in the same year-ago period.

Oil income, which accounts for 94 percent of revenues, dropped 5.3 percent to 14.2 billion dinars in the first half from 15.0 billion dinars previously, according to the new figures.

Despite the fall, the emirate still managed to post a provisional budget surplus of 9.0 billion dinars.

Spending was 6.1 billion dinars, up 19.6 percent on last year's 5.1 billion dinars.

The sharp dive in global oil prices did not reflect fully on the Kuwaiti figures because most of the slump took place in October and deepened in November.

The average price for Kuwaiti oil in April-August was $103.92 a barrel, according to Adnan Abdulsamad, the head of the parliamentary committee on budgets.

Abdulsamad said Wednesday the price for Kuwaiti oil dropped to an average of $95.4 and $84.3 a barrel in September and October, respectively.

The slide has continued this month, with the price of oil closing Friday at $71.4 a barrel, less than the breakeven rate of $75 a barrel estimated in the 2014-2015 budget, according to Kuwait Petroleum Corp.

Abdulsamad also warned that Kuwait, which posted a budget surplus in each of the past 15 fiscal years due to high oil prices, could see its first shortfall at the end of this fiscal year if the trend continues.

As a result of the windfall, Kuwait's fiscal reserves reached $548 billion as of June 30.

The fiscal year starts on April 1 and ends on March 31 in Kuwait, a tiny Gulf state which has a native population of 1.25 million and is also home to about 2.8 million foreigners.

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