*Revenues pegged at QR211bn and expenditure at QR206.7bn.
*The budget also focuses on new housing areas for nationals, enhancing food security projects, establishment of infrastructure and facilities in free zones, special economic zones, and industrial and logistics zones.
*Stress on completing projects in leading sectors including healthcare, education and transportation, along with those related to hosting of World Cup in 2022.
*Major allocations sector-wise: Health QR22.7bn Education QR19.2bn Infrastructure projects QR33bn Transportation and Communications QR16.4bn
A more than 22% growth in oil price assumption has translated into a QR4.3bn surplus in Qatar's 2019 budget, the first in three years.
The major thrust for the surplus has come from a 21% expected growth in revenues (as oil price is assumed at $55 a barrel against $45 in 2018 budget), amidst a modest 2% growth in expenses, the Ministry of Finance said on Tursday.
Higher energy prices in the global markets and increasing non-oil revenues led Qatar project a QR4.3bn surplus for 2019, according to the budget estimates, which pegged revenues at QR211bn and expenditure at QR206.7bn.
In 2019, new projects valued at QR48bn are expected to be awarded out of a portfolio of committed projects worth QR421bn. These projects will boost growth in the country, especially in non-oil sectors.
Based on directives from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the 2019 budget is designed to achieve efficiency in current expenditure while maintaining the necessary allocations for the completion of major approved projects that contribute to the sustainable development targets of Qatar 2030 Vision.
These span economic, social, human and environmental development. The budget also focuses on providing the necessary 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.
The salaries and wages bill has been proposed to increase by 9% to QR57.1bn owing to increased hiring to operate several newly-completed projects, especially in the education and health sectors. Hiring is also increased in the defence, security and public safety sectors.
The allocation towards major projects has, however, seen a 3.6% decline to QR89.6bn due to the completion of some major infrastructure projects. The allocations are projected to continue declining gradually during the coming few years as more projects are completed.
Despite the drop in allocations, the major projects continued to represent the largest share of expenditure, at 43.3%. The focus continues to be on completing projects in leading sectors including healthcare, education and transportation, along with those related to the hosting of World Cup in 2022.
The allocation for the health sector has been set at QR22.7bn or 11% of the total. Major projects to improve healthcare services include expansion in Hamad Medical Corporation facilities, national laboratories, the completion of four health centers (Al Wajba, Muaither, Qatar University and Al Waab) and commencing construction of five new health centres (South of Wakra, Al Mashaf, Al Saad, Al Khor and Ain Khaled).
The education sector has been allocated QR19.2bn or 9.3% of the total. Major projects in this sector are facilities for the medicine, pharmacology, engineering and law schools at Qatar University; other Qatar University facilities (student housing, new lecture halls and Al Rawda premises); expansion in the Community College; Ministry of Education headquarters; two new schools for Qatar Academy and the establishment of other new schools at a total cost of QR6.8bn over five years.
The infrastructure projects have been allocated QR33bn or 16% of the total. The main infrastructure projects include the Al Bustan Highway, Al Rayyan/Dukhan Road, Al Khor Coastal Road, Al Furousiya Road, North Road, Wakra Expressway, Wakra Bypass, Lusail Expressway, and expansion in water and electricity networks.
The Transportation and Communications sector has been allocated QR16.4bn, 7.9% of teh total expenditure, in 2019. Most of the allocations will go to the rail project, Doha Metro, while QR1bn has been allocated for the expansion of Hamad International Airport as part of a wider plan worth QR10bn to enhance the capabilities of the airport to offer the best aviation and cargo services. There are also funds assigned to Qatar Public Transportation Programme, which is expected to cost QR3bn in 2019-21.