Posted on December 19, 2019

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani issued on Monday Law No 26 of 2019 approving the State's general budget for 2020. The law is effective as of January 1, 2020 and shall be published in the official gazette.

Qatar has presented an expansionary 2020 general budget with a five-year high expenditure, yet making a modest surplus, reflecting unhindered development projects across sectors such as new housing for nationals, food security and those in the free and special economic zones.

Total revenue is forecast at QR211bn, unchanged from the 2019 budget; whereas expenditure is slated to see almost 2% year-on-year jump to QR210.5bn, leaving a budget surplus of QR500mn, amidst a continued conservative oil price estimate of $55 a barrel. "The 2020 budget is designed to achieve efficiency in the current expenditure while maintaining the allocations required for the completion of major approved projects. These contribute to the sustainable development targets of the Qatar National Vision 2030, which focuses on economic, social, human, and environmental development," said the Ministry of Finance in a statement.

The budget also places "significant importance" on providing funds for the development of new housing areas for nationals, enhancing food security projects, and the establishment of infrastructure and facilities in free zones, special economic zones, and industrial and logistics zones. These projects will support economic growth and diversification. Allocations to salaries and wages have been budgeted at QR59bn, up 3.3% year-on-year. This growth is on account of the budgeted headcount increase necessary to operate several recently completed projects, including schools, university facilities, and healthcare centers. Hiring requirements also increased in other sectors such as transport, given the opening of the Doha Metro.

Expenditure in major projects has been budgeted at QR90bn, which is 0.6% higher than that in the previous budget. Major projects, which constitute almost 43% of total expenditure, represent the largest share of the overall budget. It highlights the country’s commitment to timely complete the projects in leading sectors, including healthcare, education, and transportation, along with those related to the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022, as per the approved schedule. Infrastructure projects account for the largest share of the major project expenditure in the 2020 budget. There are a large number of planned initiatives for highway and internal roads development, expansions of the existing roads system, water and electricity networks, sewerage networks, and other public utilities. Funds are also allocated to finance housing projects for nationals and landscape development.

The main infrastructure projects under construction include the completion of highways including Sabah Al Ahmad Corridor; expansions in the water and electricity networks; integrated infrastructure in existing urban areas and developments in the sewerage networks in different regions of the country. The 2020 budget includes allocations for the development of 13 new housing areas for nationals, to provide different facilities such as water, electricity and sewerage networks, and roads. The housing plan will cost QR12bn over five years.

New housing areas will be handed over to nationals after the completion of the required infrastructure, according to the approved schedule. The allocation for the healthcare sector is QR22.6bn, representing around 11% of the total expenditure in 2020. Major projects to improve healthcare services include expansion in Hamad Medical Corporation facilities; and establishment of several new healthcare centres. Education sector is allocated QR22.1bn in the 2020 budget, representing 10.5% of total expenditure. Major projects in the education sector currently underway include expansions in schools and other educational facilities network.

source: Gulf Times

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