UAE’s no-deficit budget at $16.bn

 Community development gets a big boost

ABHU DHABI: The UAE cabinet approved a zero-deficit budget of $16.4billion (AED60.3bn) for 2019, an increase of 18 per cent compared with 2017, where 42.3 per cent of the budget allocated to the community development programs, 17 per cent to the education system and 7.3 per cent to develop the health sector and provide medical services.

In addition, the UAE Cabinet approved a 3-year budget worth $49billion, with 59 per cent going towards education and social development.

UAE’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said, “Citizens are our top priority. We have allocated the bulk of the budget to ensure its prosperity, health, education, and security,” he said.

 “Our budget is without a deficit, and next year’s budget will be the largest in the history of the country.”

 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in May that UAE economic growth fell to just 0.5 per cent in 2017 from 3 per cent the previous year, due to a contraction in the oil sector.

Economic growth in the UAE is expected to strengthen over the next several years driven on by higher oil prices and increased government spending in preparation for the Expo 2020 event, the IMF said recently.

The organization forecasts overall growth at 2.9 per cent this year and 3.7 per cent in 2019, putting inflation at 3.5 per cent in 2018 and easing afterward.

Natalia Tamirisa, the IMF mission chief to the UAE said: “The gradual recovery is progressing and we see a similar pattern in Abu Dhabi”. The IMF expects Abu Dhabi’s non-oil economy to grow 2.3 per cent in 2018 and 3.6% in 2019.

UAE federal authorities had in 2018 taken steps to spur economic growth and include a plan to offer some expatriates 10-year visas, reduce government fees and ease restrictions on 100 per cent foreign ownership of businesses.

Abu Dhabi also unveiled a three-year, $13.6 billion economic stimulus program to encourage new industries and attract foreign investment.

 

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