Kuwait’s government has approved a spending programme of KD4.8bn ($16.7bn) for 2010-2011, according to Kuwait News Agency

The government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah, passed the plan on 31 January, said the news agency. The spending plan now needs to be passed by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah and by the Kuwaiti National Assembly (parliament).

Key to the new spending plans are a series of public-private partnerships. The government plans to boost private sector investment and will create five new companies in 2010 with up to 60 per cent of shares directly distributed among Kuwaiti citizens.

The first firm will work in border control and warehousing on the country’s northern border, while the second will act as a healthcare insurer. The remaining firms will work in low-cost housing, electricity generation and real estate development respectively.

The new companies are part of a five-year, $125bn development plan to diversify the country’s oil dependent economy. Kuwait raises more than 70 per cent of its revenues through crude oil and petroleum product sales.

The state employs more than 90 per cent of the Kuwaiti population.