Kuwait’s emir appoints new oil and finance ministers

Mohammad Abdulatif al-Fares named oil minister while Khalif Hamade is now the minister of finance.

A priority for the new government will be to boost state coffers badly hit by the coronavirus crisis and low oil prices [File: Yasser al-Zayyat/AFP]

Kuwait’s emir has approved a new cabinet that includes new ministers of oil and finance for the OPEC member state, which is mired in its worst economic crisis in decades.

The move came on Monday after the previous government resigned following parliamentary polls this month in which opposition candidates made gains and some two-thirds of legislators lost their seats.

A priority for the new government will be to boost state coffers badly hit by the coronavirus crisis and low oil prices, including by trying to end the legislative deadlock over a bill that would allow Kuwait to tap international debt markets.

The government’s communications office said Khalifa Hamade, a former finance ministry undersecretary, was named finance minister.

Mohammad Abdulatif al-Fares, who sits on the board of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, was named oil, electricity and water minister.

Kuwait’s oil policy, which is set by a supreme petroleum council, and foreign policy, which is steered by the emir, are unlikely to change under the new 15-member government.

The Gulf Arab state’s economy, worth nearly $140bn, is facing a deficit of $46bn this year.

Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who took the reins in September following the death of his brother, has reappointed Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah as prime minister.

Sheikh Sabah, who took the oath of office in front of the emir on Monday, called for united efforts “and especially by the National Assembly” to address challenges facing Kuwait.

Kuwait, an ally of the United States, has the most open political system in the Gulf region, with a parliament wielding power to pass legislation and question ministers, although senior posts are occupied by ruling family members.

Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser al-Sabah also retained his post in the new cabinet. Hamad Jaber al-Ali al-Sabah was named defence minister.

The interior ministry was given to an al-Sabah family member after having been held by a minister from outside the ruling family in the previous cabinet.

Source: Reuters