January 28, 2019 / 7:56 PM / in 3 months

IMF says economic growth in Kuwait to strengthen on the back of oil prices

FILE PHOTO - A participant stands near a logo of IMF at the International Monetary Fund - World Bank Annual Meeting 2018 in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 12, 2018. REUTERS/Johannes P. Christo

DUBAI (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on Monday Kuwait’s non-oil growth is projected to increase to about 3.5 percent in 2020, from 2.5 percent last year, as higher oil prices will boost capital spending.

“The mission has assumed an average oil price of $57 per barrel in 2019–20, increasing to $60 per barrel over the medium term,” the IMF said in a statement at the end of an official staff visit to the OPEC member.

“As capital project implementation accelerates, non-oil growth is projected to increase to about 3.5 percent in 2020.”

The IMF also said the recent OPEC decision to cut production is expected to hold oil output to 2 percent growth in 2019, which could rebound to 2.5 percent in 2020 given spare capacity.

The inflation rate is expected to rise in 2019–20 to about 2.5 percent as deflationary factors seen in 2018 unwind, the Fund said.

It said higher oil revenues and investment income helped improve the overall fiscal balance in 2017/18 to an estimated surplus of 8 percent of GDP, which will reach almost 12 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2018/19.

Delays to the passage of a new debt law have left the government unable to issue debt since October 2017, forcing it to draw on the state General Reserve Fund for financing, including to repay maturing debt, the IMF said.

“Continued fiscal consolidation will be needed to reduce financing needs over the medium term,” the Fund added.

Last week, Kuwait announced a 2019/20 budget that included a 4.7 percent rise in spending to 22.5 billion dinars ($74.15 billion). Salaries and subsidies accounted for 71 percent of the budget.

Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Catherine Evans

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