Kuwait replaces oil minister amidst falling prices

Published November 30th, 2015 - 12:55 GMT
Oil-dependent Kuwait has suffered from the 17 months of declining oil prices. (Al Bawaba/File)
Oil-dependent Kuwait has suffered from the 17 months of declining oil prices. (Al Bawaba/File)

Kuwait has replaced its oil minister with finance minister and deputy premier Anas al-Saleh as the country is squeezed by falling oil prices, state news agency KUNA reported. Minister Ali al-Omair has been moved to the position of public works minister and minister of state for parliamentary affairs amid a parliamentary reshuffle.

Though the agency did not divulge why he was leaving the oil minister post, close sources revealed that Omair was expected to be replaced 10 days ago, Reuters reports.

It is understood al-Omair tried recently to introduce some changes to the management of state oil companies but was blocked. The departure is not expected to provoke any change in the oil policy of the OPEC member – Kuwait’s oil policy is set by the country's Supreme Petroleum Council.

Al-Saleh will perform the acting role alongside his current positions. KUNA also reported that Electricity, Water and Public Works Minister Ahmad Khaled al-Jassar had resigned. Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah al-Mubarak was named acting electricity and water minister.

Of the Gulf Co-operation Council, Kuwait has been one of the countries hardest hit by 17 months of falling oil prices, leading to calls from the International Monetary Fund on governments to cut back on subsidies, government spending and consider levying taxes.

As a result, the government’s budget for 2015 could hit a deficit of $27bn and last week the Kuwaiti dinar fell sharply against the United States dollar - levels last seen amid the 2009 global economic crisis. However, the country still remains one of the richest of the Gulf energy exporters and is expected to cope relatively easily with an era of cheap oil.

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