KUWAIT, Sept 15 (KUNA) -- Implications of subsidy reforms in Kuwait and the Arab world were the focus of a symposium organized here on Monday by the IMF Middle East Center for Economics and Finance (CEF) and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD).
The panel discussion of the event, held at the AFESD headquarters, was moderated by CEF Director Oussama Kanaan.
The symposium indicates the beginning of a series of events organized by the CEF and AFESD aiming at stimulating discussion on timely economic issues that are of special interest to the public and policymakers in Kuwait and the wider Arab community, Kanaan said, according to a press release.
He added that the topic of subsidy reform is a critical policy issue for Kuwait and the other Arab countries in their pursuit of prudent fiscal and macroeconomic policies, and of an efficient and socially desirable pattern of public expenditures.
Drawing on international countries experiences, the panel sought to bring to the fore subsidy reform strategies that are most conducive to durable, more equitable economic growth; a healthy public finance situation and outlook; and an efficient, well targeted social protection system, the release added.
IMF's Deputy Division Chief, Middle East and Central Asia Department Prasad Ananthakrishnan, who leads the yearly IMF mission to appraise Kuwait's economic situation started by putting into perspective the importance of the fuel subsidy reform for the country in light of its macroeconomic and fiscal conditions, taking into account trends of oil prices.
He explained that, for most of the past decade, high oil prices fueled a large expansion of the government spending, supported strong economic growth, and helped create employment in Kuwait. But that has come to and end, he said.
In the new reality of low oil prices, a gradual reduction in government spending, beginning now, is needed, he added. (end) msa