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UPDATE 1-Kuwait expects budget spending growth to slow next fiscal year
January 23, 2014 / 4:16 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kuwait expects budget spending growth to slow next fiscal year

* Expenditure of 21.86 bln dinars expected in 2014/15

* Much slower rise than average increase in past decade

* Follows more conservative budgets from Saudis, Oman

* Revenues seen at 20.07 bln dinars - budget draft

* High oil prices mean another surplus likely (Adds details, background)

By Sylvia Westall

KUWAIT, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Kuwait plans to raise its budget spending by 3.2 percent next fiscal year compared to this year’s plan, a cabinet statement said on Thursday, a much slower rise than the past decade’s double-digit average.

The major oil producer expects to spend 21.86 billion dinars ($77.3 billion) in its draft budget for the fiscal year starting in April, up by 681.9 million dinars from the 2013/14 plan, according to projections discussed in a cabinet meeting.

That is well below the average annual spending rise of 19.2 percent in the last decade to 2012/13, according to Reuters calculations based on official data.

The plan, which still needs parliament’s approval, suggests Kuwait is following other Gulf states in adopting a more cautious fiscal policy, after warnings by the International Monetary Fund and others that regional governments could fall into deficit in a few years if they do not control spending.

Last month, Saudi Arabia revealed a 2014 budget which projected the slowest spending rise in a decade, while earlier this month Oman released a 2014 budget plan which will slow growth in spending sharply.

Kuwait’s state revenues are projected at 20.07 billion dinars next fiscal year, a Reuters calculation based on the official figures showed.

The budget plan is based on an oil price of $75 per barrel. Oil revenues are seen at 18.81 billion dinars, or 94 percent of the total, the statement said.

Since global oil prices are currently trading around $108, and Kuwait normally spends less than it plans because of frictions between the cabinet and parliament which slow investment schemes, the government looks set to post another large budget surplus next fiscal year.

Investment spending next fiscal year is projected at 2.91 billion dinars, or 13.4 percent of the total, the statement said. Subsidies would cost the state 5.11 billion dinars, 6.1 percent more than in the current year’s plan.

The government is conducting a politically sensitive review of subsidies, with a committee expected to report its recommendations this year. The new finance minister has said subsidies will be reduced in some cases but not eliminated altogether. (Additional reporting by Maha El Dahan in Abu Dhabi and Martin Dokoupil in Dubai; Writing by Martin Dokoupil; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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