Kuwait – Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has told the new members of the country’s National Assembly that cuts in public spending are inevitable to reduce a growing budget deficit.
Addressing the opening session of the new parliament on Sunday, Al-Sabah said a sharp drop in state revenue due to lower oil prices over the past two years was the second most serious challenge facing Kuwait, after regional security threats.
“I am certain that your esteemed council and my brothers and sons, all citizens, realize that cutting public spending through careful measures to fix the imbalance in the state budget, stopping waste and the bleeding of our national resources…has become inevitable,” he said.
The address came one day after Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah formed a new government on Saturday.
“It is inevitable to initiate effective measures to remedy the deficit and alleviate its effects,” the Emir was quoted as saying by state news agency KUNA.
The emir said the sharp drop in oil revenues has resulted in a huge budget deficit and “there is no other option but to take effective measures to deal with it.”
“I am confident that parliament and my brother citizens are all aware that reducing public expenditure is inevitable through well-studied measures,” he said.
He however said that those measures should spare low-income people and take into consideration social justice.
He noted in this regard that the government must ease the burden on low-income Kuwaitis.
Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, who was reappointed by the emir to head the new government after the election, told parliament he intended to push ahead with plans to diversify the economy beyond oil, which would be presented to the assembly soon.