Qatar Posts $26 Bln Budget Surplus In July-Sept

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Qatar's government budget leaped into a large surplus of QAR94.6bn (US$26bn) in the July-September period, the second quarter of its 2012/13 fiscal year, preliminary central bank data showed on Thursday.

The fiscal surplus of the world's number one exporter of liquefied natural gas was equivalent to 53.9 percent of gross domestic product in the period, according to the central bank.

It was more than double the QAR42.2bnl surplus recorded in the same quarter of the previous year, and compared with an QAR18.5bn deficit in April-June. That put the cumulative surplus at QAR76.1bn in April-September.

Because of the timing of revenue flows, Qatar's budget usually records deficits in the first quarter of its fiscal year, which begins in April, and then bounces back into surplus for the rest of the year.

The OPEC member booked a robust QAR54.3bn surplus in the 2011/12 fiscal year, the biggest since at least 2005/06, despite a surge in spending on public sector wages.

Analysts polled by Reuters in January forecast Qatar's budget surplus would be 9.1 percent of GDP in the current fiscal year.

Expenditure rose nearly 14 percent from a year earlier to QAR40.8bn in July-September. Revenue was QAR135.3bn, up 74 percent. Oil- and gas-related revenue accounts for roughly 70 percent of Qatar's budget income.

Under its budget plan the Gulf Arab state said it would boost spending to QAR178.6bn in the current fiscal year, including wages, services and projects, but expected a comfortable surplus of QAR27.8bn.

In September 2011 Qatar, which has avoided the social unrest that rocked much of the Arab world, raised basic salaries and social benefits for state civilian employees by 60 percent, while military staff received 50-120 percent increases.

It plans to spend an average of over 10 percent of GDP annually on infrastructure in the run-up to hosting the soccer World Cup tournament in 2022.

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