Qatar is expected to pass a law in January that will mandate raising the salaries of certain government employees by up to 100 per cent.

The move runs counter to the austerity measures being observed by other GCC governments, particularly by Saudi Arabia, which has recently reduced its ministers’ salaries by 20 per cent in line with lower government revenues due to persistent low oil prices.

Qatar is understood to have raised salaries for its citizens last in 2011 during the Arab Spring. At the time citizens were offered a salary raise of 60 per cent to pre-empt any negative sentiments that could potentially disrupt its political stability, local media reports indicated.

The recent decision to increase government wages is being viewed as consistent with the government’s goal to strengthen its institutional capacity as part of the country’s long-term economic development plan, Qatar National Vision 2030.

Qatar is expected to register a budget deficit of QR43.2bn ($11.9bn) in 2016, equivalent to 7.6 per cent of the country’s estimated nominal gross domestic product (GDP).

While raising government salaries could help stimulate individual spending and support the GDP, the government-sanctioned salary raise is expected to widen the income gap between the public and private sector, whose salary scheme remains unchanged.

A new labour law that provides salaried workers in Qatar more freedom of movement and which abolishes the controversial sponsorship (kafala) system also recently came into effect.

Human rights group Amnesty International, however, says the new labour law still falls short of the required reforms to improve the working conditions in Qatar.