Kuwait Emir urges reforms as income drops 60 percent

“The decline in global oil prices has caused state revenues to drop by around 60 percent while spending remained without any reduction leading to a huge deficit,” the emir told lawmakers. (AP)

Kuwait’s ruler called on Tuesday for officials in the oil-rich state to seek alternative revenue sources and reduce public expenditure after state income dropped 60 percent due to a sharp slide in crude prices.

Addressing parliament at the beginning of its new term, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah urged citizens to understand the new measures.

“The decline in global oil prices has caused state revenues to drop by around 60 percent while spending remained without any reduction leading to a huge deficit,” the emir told lawmakers.

He called for “speedy actions to adopt serious and fair measures to complete economic reforms... and reduce public expenditures.”

“Any delay would only increase the budget deficit and make the cost (of reforms) higher,” the emir said.

Oil prices have lost around 60 percent of their value since June 2014, hitting the coffers of energy-dependent countries like Kuwait.

Oil income accounted for about 94 percent of Kuwait’s revenues during the past 16 years, when the emirate posted a budget surplus and piled up massive fiscal reserves of around $600 billion.

The reserves are invested mostly abroad by the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

The International Monetary Fund said in a report last week that under existing conditions, the reserves would be enough to last Kuwait for the next 23 years.

But Sheikh Sabah said the government should avoid tapping the sovereign fund to finance the budget shortfall.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
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