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Thu 1 May 2008 09:25 AM

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No rent caps for Kuwait

Oil exporting Gulf state not considering introducing caps to curb soaring housing costs, minister says.

Oil exporter Kuwait is not considering introducing caps on rent rises to curb soaring housing costs, the Gulf state's finance minister said on Wednesday.

Inflation in Kuwait, the only Gulf state that does not peg its currency to the ailing dollar, hit a fresh record 9.5% in January as housing costs jumped 16.1%, government data obtained by Reuters showed this month.

"No, no," Mustapha Al-Shamali said in response to a question about whether Kuwait was considering introducing a rent cap to curb real estate price rises. "We are opening the way for an increase in supply," he said, without elaborating.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates and Oman have introduced ceilings on rent rises, while Qatar has frozen rental increases for two years as all three states contend with near-record inflation rates.

Shamali added that he expected inflation in Kuwait, the world's seventh-largest oil exporter, to be roughly on par with last year. He gave no more specifics. (Reuters)