Optimism grows as deals progress in Kuwait

13 March 2014

As key schemes move ahead, the government must ensure politics does not derail plans again

As Kuwait’s Finance Ministry draws up the country’s next five-year development plan, the government needs to ensure the targets set are achievable and that key projects are not derailed by politics.

In 2010, the government launched a plan outlining nearly $110bn-worth of spending intended to modernise ageing infrastructure and further economic diversification. While it was enthusiastically welcomed by Kuwait’s business sectors, very little of the plan has been executed due to political infighting and convoluted decision-making and tendering processes.

When Sheikh Jaber al-Hamad al-Sabah was appointed prime minister in 2011, just as the major investment was due to get under way, optimism was high that he would be able to accelerate progress. But little changed. Political infighting continued to stall major schemes.

The next development plan will, however, have more solid foundations to build on. At the end of 2013, the government signed off the long-awaited Al-Zour North scheme and has awarded packages for the Clean Fuels Project. They have been viewed as key projects to kickstart Kuwait’s development, and there is cautious optimism that others will now follow.

But the real test for the next plan will be whether the government and parliament can work together to achieve its goals. With demand for public services rising rapidly, Kuwait needs to ensure they can.

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