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Qatar posts 26 percent budget surplus as energy revenues surge

REUTERS

DUBAI

QATAR’S state budget turned a hefty surplus of 25.6 percent of quarterly economic output in the second quarter of its 2011-12 fiscal year as revenues jumped, data showed on Tuesday.

The world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas booked a surplus of QR42.2 billion ($11.6 billion) in July-September 2011, reversing a deficit of QR2.2 billion, or 1.4 percent of gross domestic product, in the previous three months, preliminary estimates published by the central bank showed.

Revenue jumped 61 percent to nearly QR78 billion in July- September from a year earlier, helped by rising oil prices and expanded gas production, bringing cumulative income for the first two fiscal quarters to 68 percent of the 2011/12 target. Government expenditures were up by nearly 24 percent in the period from a year ago at QR35.8 billion and met 50 percent of the full-year target on a cumulative basis, the data showed.

A Reuters poll in December forecast the Gulf Arab country would post a surplus of 8.6 percent of GDP for the full fiscal year ending in March, compared with a surplus of 2.9 percent of GDP in 2010-11.

Qatar’s economy is expected to slow this year from double-digit growth but the government plans to increase spending by 19 percent to at least a six-year high in the current fiscal year, helped by a recent expansion of its gas industry and robust oil prices.

In its 2011-12 budget, the cashrich country pencilled in spending worth QR139.9 billion and a surplus of 22.5 billion, or 4.9 percent, of GDP.

But that was before Qatar raised basic salaries and social benefits for state civilian employees by 60 percent in September, while military staff received 50-120 percent rises.

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