x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Kuwait budget surplus

The finance ministry posts a preliminary budget surplus of Dh91.66bn, in place of a projected deficit, due to higher than expected oil revenue.

Kuwait has posted a preliminary budget surplus of 7.2 billion dinars (Dh91.66bn) for the first nine months of its fiscal year, in place of a projected deficit, due to higher than expected oil revenue. The finance ministry said on its website that state revenue for the nine months from April to December of last year totalled 12.9bn dinars, or 59 per cent more than the government had forecast for the entire fiscal year ending on March 31.

Government spending of 5.7bn dinars during the period was 47 per cent of the amount projected for the year. The Gulf state had projected a budget deficit this year of 4.8bn dinars, based on an average crude price of US$35 per barrel. Oil prices, however, rallied strongly in the past 12 months and had recovered to about $80 per barrel in late December from a $32 low the previous February. As a result, Kuwait's 12.2bn dinars of oil income during the nine-month fiscal period was nearly 76 per cent above the full-year budget projection.

Oil revenue constituted more than 94 per cent of the emirate's total income for the nine-month period. Non-oil revenue came to 724 million dinars. In the next fiscal year starting April 1, Kuwait plans to spend about 16bn dinars and will base its new budget on an average crude price of $43 per barrel, the finance minister Mustafa al Shimali said yesterday. Crude, however, touched a two-week high above $78 yesterday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, rising on geopolitical concerns. Iran announced it had launched a satellite-carrier rocket, heightening the fears of western powers that Tehran might be covertly pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.

Kuwait has projected budget shortfalls in the past 10 fiscal years, but ended up with large surpluses in all of them. The emirate finished its last fiscal year with a 2.8bn dinar surplus, despite making a large one-off payment to its state pension fund. @Email:tcarlisle@thenational.ae