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Kuwait to borrow more from international market

Kuwait will increase its borrowing on international markets to plug a budget deficit resulting from low oil prices, the finance minister said on Tuesday.

The move comes after the Gulf state raised $8 billion (7.5 billion euros) last month in its first international bond issue.

“We will continue to be present in the international (debt) market but in a prudent, rational way,” Finance Minister Anas al-Saleh told reporters at the Kuwait Financial Forum.

“We will use all instruments, including bonds and (Islamic) sukuks. This will go side by side with enforcing reforms,” he said.

After registering a healthy surplus for 16 consecutive years, the Gulf state posted its first budget shortfall of $15 billion in the 2015-2016 fiscal year following a slump in oil prices.

Kuwait projected a deficit of $29 billion in the 12 months to March 31.

The country is expecting a deficit of some $21.6 billion for the next fiscal year.

On top of its international bond sales, Saleh said the government had raised domestic debt worth 2.2 billion dinars ($7.2 billion) in 2016-2017.

The government also withdrew unspecified amounts from its reserves, estimated at $600 billion, to meet the budget deficit.

Saleh said the government put forward a bill allowing the state to borrow up to 20 billion dinars ($65.5 billion) over the next five years.

Like other countries in Gulf, oil-rich Kuwait has seen its main revenue stream hit hard by a prolonged drop in crude prices.

An OPEC member state, it pumps around 2.8 million barrels per day.

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