Second time lucky for Kuwait

24 February 2015

New five-year development plan includes many old projects

It is second time lucky for Kuwait as it embarks on its latest five-year development plan. According to sources who have seen the document, it is similar in scope to the previous investment programme, which covered the 2010-14 period, and contains many of the same megaprojects to be completed.

The 2010-14 plan was plagued by parliamentary disputes and cabinet reshuffles, which stalled schemes and saw many contracts awarded only to be cancelled. Just 52 per cent of the proposed $110bn of spending for the period was implemented.

The infrastructure specified in the previous plan included a railway and metro system, a new container harbour and 25-kilometre causeway, the Silk City business hub, and an overhaul of facilities in the oil sector, as well as investments in power and water projects, social infrastructure and airports.

Most of this work remains to be delivered. The collapse in oil prices since June provided an opportunity to scale back on these commitments, but instead parliament has approved an equally ambitious $116bn five-year development plan.

The key this time will be delivery. Kuwait cannot once again take projects to the market, engage bidders and then disappoint. If it wants to attract submissions from the very best and most technically able companies, it needs to build up a track record of success. The current consensus in parliament due to the absence of opposition provides that opportunity. But Kuwait needs to move fast if its plans are to be taken seriously.

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