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Fri 20 May 2016 12:00 AM

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Kuwait 'spending as much as possible' despite oil slump

Anas Al-Saleh, Kuwait’s deputy premier, says gov't isn't cancelling any projects during challenging period

Kuwait 'spending as much as possible' despite oil slump
Kuwait’s deputy premier Anas al-Saleh. (YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Kuwait is "spending as much as possible" to boost economic growth during the era of lower oil prices, according to a senior official.

Anas Al-Saleh, Kuwait’s deputy premier, told Bloomberg said that the government isn’t cancelling any projects, while authorities are cutting wasteful spending to plug a budget deficit that could exceed 13 percent of gross domestic product in 2016.

Al-Saleh, the minister of finance and the country’s acting oil chief, is pushing measures including reducing utility subsidies, introducing corporate taxes, merging state entities and tapping local and international debt markets.

“We are determined to go forward and spend as much as possible on our economy and infrastructure,” Al-Saleh said in an interview with Bloomberg Television, adding that reducing the budget shortfall is also a priority.

He claimed in the interview that Kuwait has enough financial clout to respond gradually to the plunge in global crude prices.

Bloomberg quoted him as saying that while the oil decline “has clearly shown the structural issues in our economy”, having low debt, strong local and international reserves would help make reform "quite steadily" without “reacting aggressively” with steep spending cuts.

Al-Saleh also cited examples of streamlining state entities to reduce red tape, including plans to merge port and customs authorities.

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