Kuwait’s National Assembly (parliament) has passed an amended four-year development programme worth KD7.4bn ($25.8bn) a year, according to a senior government source.

In a vote on 2 February, 53 out of 56 members of parliament voted in favour of the bill, which outlines spending and development plans for the next four years, starting in March 2010 and ending in March 2014.

The plan was originally meant to cost $125bn over five years, with the period to March 2010 included retrospectively. This has now been cut to KD7.4bn a year for four years, or $101.8bn in total, according to a senior member of the government’s planning committee.

Kuwait’s government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohamed al-Ahmed al-Sabah, was delighted by the vote after years of wrangling with opposition parliamentarians, he adds.

“There is huge support for this plan,” he says. “It is a real change from the past few years. The vote was almost completely unanimous.”

The programme will result in the government spending KD1.45bn a year on the oil and gas sector, KD2.4bn on the non-oil sector, and KD3.55bn on private sector development. Other major projects will be budgeted for separately.

The approval of the bill is the first time a Kuwaiti government has inaugurated a long-term spending plan since 1986. However, the plan passed in July 1986 did not survive the dissolution of parliament three months later.

One of the cornerstones of the latest spending programme is the development of five new public companies which will work in the construction, real estate, healthcare, warehousing and power generation sectors.

The government is now holding talks with parliamentarians over details of the spending programme for the year to 31 March 2011, says the source. The programme will cost about KD4.8bn and should be passed by the end of February.