KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Kuwait has lost 31 billion dollars of its estimated 300-billion-dollar sovereign wealth fund as a result of the global economic crisis, a lawmaker said on Tuesday.
“We were told that losses in our foreign investments were nine billion dinars (30.9 million dollars),” Islamist MP Waleed al-Tabtabai told reporters after a presentation to parliament by Kuwait Investment Authority chief Bader al-Saad.
He said most of the losses revealed during a closed-door session of parliament were “book losses” as a result of the global financial crisis.
Liberal MP Mohammad al-Abduljader confirmed the magnitude of the loss, saying that it covered the period from March 31 to December 31, 2008.
Abduljader said a number of MPs raised questions about the small size of the loss and parliament decided to ask the state Audit Bureau to make sure the figures were correct.
Saad declined to comment on the figures as he left parliament.
About 22 MPs have demanded to hear the presentation on the financial status of Kuwait after international reports said sovereign wealth funds have lost about 40 percent of their value because of the global downturn.
On Sunday, the government of the oil-rich emirate unveiled a multi-billion dollar stimulus plan that includes wide-ranging state guarantees for bank loans and assisting troubled investment firms to repay their debts.
Last year, Kuwait guaranteed deposits of all banks operating in the country.
A number of Kuwaiti investment companies have defaulted on loans as credit facilities have become difficult to obtain and the value of their assets has plunged.