Oil plunge to cost GCC exporters $300 billion: IMF

The plunge in the oil price will cost the powerful energy exporters of the Gulf Cooperation Council around $300 billion, threatening to send many into budget deficits, the IMF reported Wednesday.

Washington: The plunge in the oil price will cost the powerful energy exporters of the Gulf Cooperation Council around $300 billion, threatening to send many into budget deficits, the IMF reported Wednesday.

Of the major exporters of the GCC, the International Monetary Fund predicted in a new report that only Kuwait would maintain a budget surplus this year. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will sink into deficits.

The hit will amount to another $125 billion for other oil and gas exporters across the Middle East -- Iran, Iraq, Algeria and Libya -- and exporters of central Asia, pushing nearly all into fiscal deficits this year, the IMF said.

"Most oil exporters need oil prices to be considerably above the $57 (a barrel) projected for 2015 to cover government spending, which has increased in recent years in response to rising social pressures and infrastructure development goals."

Only Kuwait, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan appear able to keep their budgets balanced, it said.

But the report said that most oil exporters retain significant cushions from years of surplus, and have substantial financial assets and borrowing power, allowing them to avoid suddenly slashing their budgets.

Even so, it said, spending growth could slow in many to adjust to what could be lower prices over several years or more.

Global crude prices have sunk by more than half since June, delivering a windfall to importers and giving the global economy more support.

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