Kuwait Says Oil Rout Heightens Need for Domestic Investments

OPEC member Kuwait said the global plunge in oil and financial markets heightens the need for the country to press ahead with investment spending and diversify revenue sources.

Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh briefed the cabinet on the market turmoil, the state-run Kuna news agency reported on Monday. Brent fell below $45 a barrel on Monday for the first time since 2009 on concerns a global supply glut may be worsening.

The plunge in oil prices has sent stock markets in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, tumbling. Kuwait’s benchmark index dropped 1.6 percent on Monday to the lowest level since November 2012.

The cabinet “stressed the need to implement” measures outlined by the Ministry of Finance to the parliament about diversifying sources of income, Kuna reported. Capital investment spending must also continue, it said.

Kuwaiti officials are considering introducing corporate taxes for both local and foreign companies as a means to help state finances, Kuna said in March. The government has cut spending on energy subsidies and officials have repeatedly said that other forms of handouts to citizens were unsustainable.

The fourth-largest producer in OPEC, Kuwait pumps about 2.8 million barrels of oil per day and oil income has contributed to more than 90 percent of public revenues.

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