KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Kuwait plans to boost its non-oil income four-fold by the end of a four-year development plan to diversify an economy heavily dependent on oil, a senior government minister said on Monday.
“The four-year plan stipulates that non-oil revenues in its final year will rise to between 3.8-4.0 billion dinars (13.5-14.2 billion dollars),” from its current level of around 3.5 billion dollars, deputy premier for economic affairs, Sheikh Ahmad Fahad al-Sabah, said.
The minister, who was addressing the Kuwait Financial Forum, stressed that the plan envisages expanding the role of the private sector in the government-dominated economy.
Its ultimate goal is to turn Kuwait into a regional trade and financial centre, he said.
The 104-billion-dollar development plan, which was approved by parliament earlier this year, was launched this fiscal year which began on April 1 and is the first of its kind adopted by Kuwait in a quarter of a century.
Sheikh Ahmad, who is tasked with implementing the plan, said 25 percent of projects outlined in the first year have been completed and that 40-50 percent more should be done before the end of the fiscal year in March.
“We have already committed to 3.2 billion dollars worth of projects out of the planned 17.7 billion dollars,” he said.
“Out of 14 mega-projects outlined, we have awarded eight so far and the rest will be inked soon,” Sheikh Ahmad added.
Mega-projects outlined in the plan include a 25-kilometre (15 miles) causeway, two power stations, four housing cities, a modern container harbour and a huge hospital, the minister said.
Sheikh Ahmad said his ministry has already received requests from other ministries and government institutions for 1,100 projects worth 25 billion dollars for the second year of the plan.
The Kuwaiti development plan also includes parts of a new business hub called Silk City, which is to be built in Subbiya, north of Kuwait City, for an estimated 77 billion dollars.
And it also includes a railway and metro system, new cities and additional spending on infrastructure, particularly in the health and education sectors.
The plan also stipulates increased spending in the oil sector, the country’s lifeline, to raise crude oil production capacity and modernise oil facilities.
Political bickering that has rocked Kuwait over the past few years has delayed many development projects.
Kuwait has amassed huge foreign assets in the past decade — estimated at about 270 billion dollars and mostly located abroad — on the back of high oil prices.
Kuwait, which says it holds 10 percent of global crude reserves, pumps about 2.3 million barrels per day.