Qatar has announced a record budget that includes sharp increases in funding for infrastructure projects and World Cup 2022 preparations.
The Minister of Finance, Ali Sharif Al-Emadi, said government spending would increase by 3.7 per cent to QR218.4bn ($59.98bn) in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Qatar expects to record six per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2014 and record QR225.7bn in revenues, up from QR218bn in the previous years budget. The budget for the Qatari fiscal year, which runs from 1 April to 31 March, was based on an oil price of $65 per barrel.
The lions share of the expenditure increase is aimed at completing and implementing development projects, the minister said.
A total of QR87.5bn is allocated for key projects, an increase of 16 per cent compared to QR74.9bn in the previous year. Over the next five years, spending on projects is expected to reach QR664bn, Al-Emadi added.
Qatars 2014/15 budget
- Overall spending (QR218.4bn)
- Key projects (QR87.5bn)
- Housing (QR3.3bn)
- Salaries (QR47.5bn)
- Estimated surplus (QR7.3bn)
The minister said work will start on seven new World Cup stadiums, with funds also set aside for completing the Hamad International Airport, the New Doha Port Project, rail and metro projects, and the roads programme.
Qatar will also continue to focus on improving its social infrastructure. The budget increase includes allocations for completing the Hamad General Hospital and Sidra Medical and Research Centre. In addition, 19 new health centres are to be built, which will add to six that are already under construction.
A further QR3.3bn was set aside for housing, an increase of 18 per cent against 2013 with the aim of completing construction of 3,700 units and building 2,300 new units for 6,000 citizens.
Allocations for salaries are QR47.5bn in the new budget compared to QR44.3bn last year, an increase of 7.3 per cent.
Estimates for the 2014/2015 budget show a surplus of QR7.3bn, despite a rise in expenditure and stable oil prices, according to the minister. The surplus will be used to support the reserves of Qatar Central Bank and to help the Qatar Investment Authority explore investment opportunities in the world market.