Doha, HE Minister of Finance Ali Shareef Al Emadi said that revenues in the state budget for 2017, which was ratified by HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, are estimated at QR 170.1 billion, while expenditure is estimated to stand at QR 198.4 billion, making the expected budget deficit QR 28.3 billion.

HE Al Emadi emphasized that the 2017 budget, which complies with the provisions of Law No. 2 of 2015 on the state financial system, is in line with directives from HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to achieve efficiency in current expenditure while maintaining allocations to implement approved major projects, which will contribute to Qatar's development.

He added that the budget is aligned with Qatar National Vision 2030, which focuses on the four main pillars of economic, social, human and environmental development.

The minister said the projected total revenue for the 2017 fiscal year increased 9 percent more than in the 2016 budget, adding that the 2017 budget is based on an oil price assumption of $45 per barrel and efforts to boost non-oil revenues.

Total expenditure is 2 percent lower at QR 198.4 billion in 2017, compared with QR 202.5 billion in 2016, HE Al Emadi said, adding that this results in a budget deficit of QR 28.3 billion, down by 39.1 percent compared with a budgeted deficit of QR 46.5 billion in 2016.

He added that the budget is focused on maximizing efficiency in current expenditure. As a result of measures such as the consolidation of ministries, allocations to "Chapter I � Salaries and Wages" have been reduced by 3 percent from QR 49.5 billion to QR 48 billion and allocations to "Chapter II � Current Expenditure" have been cut by 9.6 percent from QR 58.5 billion to QR 52.9 billion. However, allocations to "Chapter III � Minor Capex" were up by 16.2 percent from QR 3.7 billion to QR 4.3 billion due to the need to fit out several new health and education facilities across the country.

HE Al Emadi said that allocations for "Chapter IV � Major Projects" in the 2017 budget have increased by 2.6 percent to QR 93.2 billion, explaining that allocations for major projects represent 47 percent of the total expenditure in 2017. "This demonstrates our commitment to complete all projects in the main sectors on schedule. An increase in construction activities on various projects will lead to higher allocations for major projects during the coming three fiscal years." The total cost of committed projects is at QR 374 billion, excluding oil and gas projects or projects by government owned companies. It is also expected that the government will sign contracts for new projects worth a total of QR 46.1 billion during 2017, the minister said.

This will include infrastructure and transportation projects worth QR 25 billion, projects related to World Cup 2022 facilities amounting to QR 8.5 billion, health and education projects worth QR 5.8 billion, and projects in other sectors of a total value of QR 6.8 billion, he added.

HE Al Emadi stressed that the implementation of major development projects will have a positive impact on economic growth as the International Monetary Fund is expecting Qatar to achieve an overall GDP growth rate of 3.4 percent in 2017, the highest in the GCC region. Also, the implementation of development projects will help sustain development in non-oil sectors, which achieved a strong growth rate of 5.8 percent during the first six months of 2016.

HE the minister of finance said that allocations for the key sectors of health, education and infrastructure projects amount to QR 87.1 billion, representing 43.9 percent of total expenditure in the 2017 budget, reflecting the government's continued commitment to delivering high quality social services.

He noted the main goal while working on the 2017 budget was to ensure that major projects in the key sectors are implemented and completed in addition to projects related to the 2022 World Cup and in line with the approved schedule.

Transportation and infrastructure projects, which the minister said represent a main pillar of enhancing sustainable development, have been allocated QR 42 billion, representing 21.2 percent of the total budgeted expenditure.

Funds were allocated to rail projects, worth QR 10 billion, and for Hamad Port, along with a large number of roads including the Lusail road, Al Rayyan road, Dukkhan road, the new ring road for trucks and the new Al Khor road. Infrastructure projects include land reclamation in north and west Doha, Al Khor, Al Mashaf, Al Wakra and Al Wukair.

Funds amounting to QR 24.5 billion have been allocated to the health sector, representing 12.3 percent of total expenditure in 2017 budget. This will finance many projects including the final stage of Sidra Medical and Research Center. There are also allocations to expand facilities at Hamad General Hospital and complete the Laborers' Hospital in the Industrial Area, besides expansion in Hamad General Hospital.

HE Al Emadi said the government also continues to focus on education, allocating QR 20.6 billion to the sector, which represents 10.4 percent of the total expenditure. Funds were allocated for the construction of 17 new schools and nurseries and the completion of another 28 schools and nurseries. There are also funds for new projects in Qatar University, including the faculties of Education, Pharmacology, Law, and laboratories for the Faculty of Sciences. Also, there are funds for the completion of projects in the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development including research facilities, infrastructure and transportation in Education City.

In terms of chapters of expenditure in the state budget, HE Al Emadi said, major projects led the chart with 47 percent of expenditure, salaries and wages amounted to 24.2 percent, current expenditure stood at 26.6 percent, and minor capex accounted for 2.2 percent.

As for total expenditure allocated to key sectors in the budget, health and education were allocated 22.7 percent, transportation and infrastructure had 21.2 percent, while other sectors were allocated 56.1 percent.

HE the minister of finance said the 2017 budget assumes a cyclical deficit due to a combination of low energy prices and a period of high development expenditure. The deficit is budgeted at QR 28.3 billion, down by 39.1 percent compared with the QR 46.5 billion foreseen in the 2016 budget.

The minister added that Qatar will continue to finance the deficit through issuing debt instruments in the local and international financial markets, while maintaining its reserves and investments.

He added that the government will also continue efforts to control inflation at acceptable levels through coordinated fiscal and monetary policies through cooperation between the Ministry of Finance and Qatar Central Bank, noting that projected inflation remain at acceptable levels.

HE Al Emadi said that projects in the health sector include the expansion of Hamad General Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation as well as pledged health centers that are expected to complete in Al Karaana, Al Ghuwariyah, Al Rawda, Al Muntazah, Al Naeem and Umm Salal, in addition to health centers under construction in Qatar University, Al Wajba, Al Waab, Muaither, and other health centers in Al Khor, Al Sadd, Al Shamal, Al Mashaf, Al Wakra, Ain Khalid, and the final construction phases at Sidra Medical and Research Center.

As for the main education projects, HE the minister of finance said they include the expansion of educational, residential and administrative buildings at Qatar University, while Qatar Foundation will establish three new schools across the country.

He added that Qatar Foundation will continue its underway projects, which include the expansion of research facilities, infrastructure, transportation and entertainment facilities.

Source: Qatar News Agency