x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Kuwait wants faster release of economic data

The central bank of Kuwait, the only Gulf nation that is not pegged to the dollar, has called for quicker release of key economic data, such as inflation figures.

Kuwait's central bank governor has called for key economic data, such as inflation, to be released more quickly and consistently, a move that will enable the country to improve monetary planning. While other Gulf states, among them Saudia Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, have published August data for inflation, Kuwait - the only Gulf nation that is not pegged to the dollar - has issued data only as late as June, and there is no indication of when July figures will be released.

"We in Kuwait still suffer from a delay of some important data. We hope to be able to work with the concerned parties in preparing these data to become more up to date," the bank's governor, Sheikh Salem Abdul Aziz al Sabah, said yesterday. Countries in the world's biggest oil exporting region have been thrown into the global spotlight as their economies surge ahead due to high oil prices. But consistent economic data - including GDP, inflation and money supply - has struggled to keep pace, with few countries offering timely, detailed statistics or a calendar of scheduled releases.

Gulf countries have been working to align the methods they use to calculate consumer price inflation by next year in preparation for monetary union, a GCC executive said last month. In Kuwait, the central bank has just put June inflation data on its website - which is often not updated for weeks - long after the figures were leaked by government sources to the media. The central bank has also just released this month its quarterly data report for the April to June period on its website, while the September money supply data are still absent.

Kuwait has yet to publish data on GDP on constant prices for 2007, while last year's GDP on current prices figures were released only in June. Unlike other countries, it does not issue GDP on a quarterly basis. Kuwaiti money supply growth, an indicator of future inflation, was almost unchanged in August from the month earlier at 15.3 per cent, official data showed. M3, the broadest measure of money circulating in the economy, hit 20.628 billion Kuwaiti dinars (Dh281.96bn) on Aug 31 compared with 17.887bn dinars a year earlier, the central bank said in a monthly report on its website.

Annual inflation in Kuwait was 11.35 per cent in June, the latest available data. In August, quasi-money - which includes savings and time deposits in dinars, as well as foreign currency deposits - advanced 14 per cent, slower than the 16.1 per cent in July. Narrow money, or M1, rose 20.18 per cent to 4.65bn dinars in August, compared with 12.7 per cent in July, the data showed. This month, the Kuwaiti central bank cut the benchmark discount rate by 125 basis points and lowered the repurchase rate to strengthen the nation's economic environment.

* with Reuters