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Kuwait Cabinet Resigns Over Oil Wealth Spending

Kuwait’s new Cabinet has resigned amid protests over a planned spending spree of the country’s oil wealth by the Assembly, which some fear would drain state coffers to the point of no return. 

The Cabinet’s move to resign is meant to hinder the Assembly’s attempts to push through spending bills that would see the government buying back consumer loans and raising salaries and benefits, among other things. 

The prime minister submitted the government's resignation to the crown prince "as a result of what has become of the relationship between the executive and legislative authorities", according to Kuwait’s KUNA news agency, citing a cabinet statement.

This is the third cabinet formed by Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nawaf al-Ahmed Al-Sabah since he took office in August last year. It is also Kuwait’s sixth government in three years.

The parliament is led by opposition forces, which view ministers as corrupt and accuse them of mismanaging the country’s oil wealth. Appointed by the ruling family, the government has been at constant odds with the elected assembly, which is pursuing populist measures. 

At the same time, the inability to keep a government in place has made it impossible to go through with any much-needed fiscal reforms. 

While Kuwait boasts one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds and has very low debt with a surplus of around $23 billion in store and an economy that was set for almost 8% growth in 2022, according to Bloomberg, it’s falling far behind its peers–Saudi Arabia and the UAE in terms of non-oil economic growth. 

According to OPEC’s December Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR), Kuwait’s crude oil production fell sharply, by 35,000 bpd, compared to increases in other venues, including Nigeria, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. 

As of 2020, Kuwait has 101.5 billion barrels in oil reserves. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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