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Thu 20 Mar 2014 02:24 PM

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Qatar gov't spending soars nearly 33%

New data shows spending rises to $25.6bn in the first half of current fiscal year

Qatar gov't spending soars nearly 33%

Qatar's government spending rose nearly 33 percent to QR93.2 billion ($25.6 billion) in the first half of this fiscal year, speeding up after a slow start to soccer World Cup 2022 projects, data showed on Thursday.

Expenditure in April-September accounts for a little over 44 percent of the record QR210.6 billion Qatarplans to spend in the 2013/14 fiscal year.

The rate of increase compared with the same period a year ago is the fastest since at least 2008, preliminary finance ministry data released by the central bank showed.

The world's top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter spent QR70.3 billion in the same period of the previous 2012/13 fiscal year. Qatar's fiscal year ends in March.

Certain big-ticket projects in Qatar such as the metro, port, and airport have been scaled down or divided into phases to reduce the risk of economic overcapacity, the International Monetary Fund said earlier this month.

Difficulties in planning, coordination and arranging the necessary resources as well as bureaucratic obstacles had also delayed state spending in the past.

Revenue fell 19 percent to QR118.5 billion in the first half, the first decline in this period since the quarterly data series started in 2008. That was more than 54 percent of the QR218.1 billion anticipated in the 2013/14 budget.

The budget surplus in the first half of 2013/14 was QR25.2 billion, sharply down from QR76.1 billion a year before, the data showed.

The surplus was equivalent to 3.6 percent of 2012 gross domestic product, a Reuters calculation based on the latest official data showed.

Analysts polled by Reuters in January forecast the OPEC member's fiscal surplus at 9.0 percent of GDP in 2013/14, shrinking to 5.9 percent in the coming fiscal year.

Soaring government spending may push the fiscal balance into a deficit over the medium term when combined with flat production of LNG, falling crude oil output from mature fields and lower hydrocarbon prices, the IMF warned this month.

Plans to spend some $140 billion in the run-up to the World Cup entail a possibility of overheating in the near term and low return and overcapacity in the medium term, the Fund also said.

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