State authorities are implementing austerity measures, introducing spending cuts in adherence to the recent Cabinet decision to reduce the budget for the fiscal year 2020/2021 by a minimum20%, in order to face the large fiscal deficit in the state budget, due to declining revenues as a consequence of dropping oil prices and economic repercussions from the coronavirus pandemic, Al-Qabas daily reported.

The Ministry of Finance is continuing to coordinate with the state ministries to reconsider the budget estimates for each ministry to slash expenditures to reach the percentage determined by the Council of Ministers.

Some ministries have already embarked on the austerity plan and reduced expenditures at the required rate, stressing that there are ministries that need additional support for their current budgets, including education and health, the daily said, quoting official government sources.

Despite halting waste and working on rationalizing public funds is currently the top priority, many state ministers have expressed to the Ministry of Finance that reducing the budget by 20% is impossible and will affect vital work for these entities.

The daily said, quoting official sources in the Ministry of Education that the ministry is unable to adhere to this specific reduction, noting that the first chapter on salaries consumes about 93% of the ministry’s budget, and there are other expenditures for chapters and items.

The percentage to be reduced in the Education Ministry amounts to about KD428 million dinars from the total budget approved for the 2019/2020 academic year, but the ministry cannot reduce more than KD19 million dinars (or 1% of the total budget), otherwise the educational sector will be affected.

In the Ministry of Electricity and Water, it was decided to reduce the size of some contracts, but the Ministry refused to postpone any of its tenders, as there is a necessity for more projects to meet the increasing demand for electricity and water.

The Ministry of Public Works also moved towards immediate austerity measures at the level of cleaning, guard and car contracts, but the ministry also refused to compromise on maintenance, and at the level of the manpower, its official assured Al-Qabas that the reduction of the budget does not affect the bonuses and support for Kuwaitis.

The Director of Relations and Media Department, the official spokeswoman for the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), Aseel Al-Mazyed assured in a statement to Al-Qabas that the reduced percentage in the budget does not affect the salaries of PAM’s employees or the funds for disbursing financial benefits for citizens working in the private sector, but rather other services and construction contracts.

The budget of the Public Authority for Manpower for the year 2020/2021 is about KD527 million dinars, and the bulk of its expenditures go to supporting Kuwaiti workers and disbursing social allowances, Al Qabas daily said.

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