KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday submitted a draft 2022-2023 budget projecting a narrower budget deficit amid climbing oil prices. The state, whose revenues heavily rely on hydrocarbons, projected a budget deficit of $10.3 billion for the fiscal year starting in April, down 74.2 percent from the current year's estimated shortfall, according to a finance ministry statement.

It added that spending would fall 4.8 percent to around $72.8 billion, of which 74.5 percent would be allocated to civil service wages and public subsidies. Revenues are projected at $62.2 billion, up 72.2 percent from the current fiscal year's estimates. The budget has been worked out on the basis of oil price at $75 per barrel.

"Next year's budget projects higher revenue levels, however we were keen to maintain our cap on expenditure at 22 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($72.8 billion) while maintaining healthy capital expenditure that is in line with previous years," Finance Minister Abdulwahab Al-Rushaid said, according to the statement. A new government was sworn in on Dec 29, Kuwait's fourth in two years, after the last one resigned in November amid political deadlock.

The new lineup included a critical voice in Rushaid, who earlier in December called on the government to "focus on a sustainable economy rather than on the fluctuations of oil prices". Like most Gulf countries, Kuwait's economy and state budgets have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the low price of oil. - AFP