IMF sees slower growth in Kazakhstan on flat oil output

ALMATY, Jan 30 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund expects economic growth in oil-exporting Kazakhstan to slow this year, contrary to the government’s forecast, on flat oil output, it said on Thursday.

The IMF predicts the Central Asian nation’s gross domestic product growth to moderate to 3.6% this year from 4.1% in 2019.

The Nur-Sultan government had estimated 2019 growth at 4.5% and wants it to accelerate to 4.7-5.0% this year, although it also forecast no significant increase in oil production.

In the non-oil sector, the IMF forecasts growth of 4.8% this year, down from 5.6% last year when the economy received a boost from public sector wage hikes ahead of a presidential election.

The IMF forecasts a return to a slightly positive fiscal balance this year and expects the current account deficit to remain flat at 2.8% of GDP.

“Directors agreed that a return to growth-friendly fiscal consolidation is necessary - following an easing of the fiscal stance in 2019 to accommodate social support and regional development outlays - while underscoring the importance of improving spending and investment efficiency,” it said. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Nick Macfie)