Kuwait posts $18B deficit as lower oil prices slash revenue

KUWAIT CITY – Kuwait’s finance minister says the oil-exporting country has posted a budget deficit of $18.2 billion for the most recent fiscal year as lower crude prices slash into government revenue.

Anas al-Saleh, who is also the acting oil minister, was quoted in the state-run Kuwait News Agency on Sunday as saying the deficit was nearly $9 billion less than budgeted for. The new fiscal year in Kuwait began April 1.

Kuwait’s budget deficit reflects the impact lower oil prices have had on crude exporters, particularly Gulf Arab monarchies that rely on oil revenues to support generous subsidies, welfare benefits and public sector wages.

Al-Saleh was quoted as saying Kuwait is “facing serious challenges” that require trimming spending, diversifying the economy, creating more jobs for Kuwaitis and attracting greater foreign investment.