The UAE’s cabinet has approved a AED44.6bn ($12.1bn) federal budget for 2013 that includes no deficit for the first time in two years, announced the country’s prime minister, who said spending would focus on social development.

“The budget is part of a three-year [2011-2013] government financial plan with total spending of AED133bn in order to implement our strategic plans,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum wrote on his official Twitter account.

A total of AED22.7bn, more than half the budget for 2013, has been allotted to social development and social benefits, with AED9.9bn earmarked for education alone, according to the state news agency WAM.

Meanwhile, 41 per cent of the spending was allocated to government affairs, which includes defence, interior, justice, foreign affairs and other federal departments.

“Priorities for the 2013 budget will be health, education and social benefits for citizens, as well as the improvement of government services,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote.

The budget represents a 6.6 per cent increase on the AED41.8bn earmarked for spending in 2012.

The UAE’s 2011 federal budget fell to a deficit of AED2.9bn, according to a report released in June by the Washington-headquartered IMF, while this year is expected to end with a $2bn deficit.