Inflation in Kuwait, which has been on an upward trend since 2017, has increased significantly over the last two years due to COVID-19 global pandemic that led to major disruption in international supply chains and a rise in food prices. The ongoing war in eastern Europe has exacerbated the inflationary trend.
According to the statistics issued by the Central Administration of Statistics, consumer prices recorded an increase of 8.2 percent between September 2017 and September 2021, going from 112.8 points to 122.1 points over the four-year period.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February 2022 sent food and energy prices soaring, and led to inflationary spikes in many countries. Figures show that salaries of workers have generally risen in a bid to keep pace with inflation, however this rise has not been universal. The ones most disadvantaged appear to be the middle- and limited-income people who constitute the largest segment in Kuwait, as well as those on fixed incomes such as retirees, who have witnessed a drop in their purchasing power due to higher prices of food and other goods in the market.
According to labor market data recently issued by the Central Administration of Statistics, the average salaries of citizens increased by 6.04 percent between 2017 and 2021, while the salaries of expatriates witnessed a greater rate of increase by about 13.7 percent. However, it must be noted that in terms of value the salaries of Kuwaitis exceed the incomes of expatriates.
The data also showed that the average salary of a Kuwaiti employee increased by the equivalent of KD85 dinars over the four years, going from KD1405 in September 2017 to KD1490 in September 2021. Meanwhile, the average salary of expatriates witnessed an average increase of KD40 dinars, rising from KD291 in September 2017 to KD331 four years later.
Based on figures from the World Bank, inflation in Kuwait is expected to rise from 3.4 percent in 2021 to 3.6 percent in 2022, making Kuwait the second Gulf country in terms of expected rise in the inflation rate after Qatar, which is likely to record 4 percent.
Data from the Central Administration of Statistics show that the largest rise in inflation since February 2022 was in the ‘food and beverages’ group, with prices increasing by 7.3 percent compared to the same period in 2021. In Kuwait 17 percent of the country’s total imports are in the food and beverages sector.