Kuwait cabinet approves budget with huge shortfall

Kuwait is struggling to balance its books after being hammered by a weak oil price. (AFP)
Updated 29 January 2018
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Kuwait cabinet approves budget with huge shortfall

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait on Monday approved its budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, projecting a huge deficit for the fourth year in a row because of low oil prices.
Next year’s deficit is estimated at $16.7 billion, or 13.5 percent of the OPEC member’s gross domestic product.
Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajjraf told a press conference the government will withdraw from the state reserve fund and borrow on the domestic and international debt markets to finance the shortfall.
After posting healthy surpluses for 16 successive years, Kuwait has posted a budget deficit in each of the past three years after oil prices began to slide in mid-2014.
Hajjraf said the new budget projects revenues at $50 billion, up 12 percent on last year’s estimates after the oil price rose from $45 to $50 a barrel.
Oil income is estimated at $44.3 billion on a daily production of 2.8 million barrels.
Spending is projected at $66.7 billion, marginally higher than last year, the minister said.
He said government wages and subsidies account for 73 percent of the budget which takes effect on April 1.
It still has to be passed by parliament.
Just 18 percent of spending will go on development projects, Hajjraf said.
He said Kuwait will not impose value-added tax or other taxation without parliamentary approval.


US intelligence says Huawei funded by Chinese state security: report

Updated 55 min 20 sec ago
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US intelligence says Huawei funded by Chinese state security: report

  • The accusation comes at a time of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing
  • Huawei dismissed the allegations

US intelligence has accused Huawei Technologies of being funded by Chinese state security, The Times said on Saturday, adding to the list of allegations faced by the Chinese technology company in the West.
The CIA accused Huawei of receiving funding from China’s National Security Commission, the People’s Liberation Army and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network, the British newspaper reported, citing a source.
Earlier this year, US intelligence shared its claims with other members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, which includes Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to the report.
Huawei dismissed the allegations in a statement cited by the newspaper.
“Huawei does not comment on unsubstantiated allegations backed up by zero evidence from anonymous sources,” a Huawei representative told The Times.
The company, the CIA and Chinese state security agencies did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
The accusation comes at a time of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and amid concerns in the United States that Huawei’s equipment could be used for espionage. The company has said the concerns are unfounded.
Authorities in the United States are probing Huawei for alleged sanctions violations.
Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December at the request of the United States on charges of bank and wire fraud in violation of US sanctions against Iran.
She denies wrongdoing and her father has previously said the arrest was “politically motivated.”
Amid such charges, top educational institutions in the West have recently severed ties with Huawei to avoid losing federal funding.
Another Chinese technology company, ZTE Corp. , has also been at the center of similar controversies in the United States.
US sanctions forced ZTE to stop most business between April and July last year after Commerce Department officials said it broke a pact and was caught illegally shipping US-origin goods to Iran and North Korea. The sanctions were lifted after ZTE paid $1.4 billion in penalties.
Reuters reported earlier this week that the United States will push its allies at a meeting in Prague next month to adopt shared security and policy measures that will make it more difficult for Huawei to dominate 5G telecommunications networks.