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Mon 5 Jan 2009 07:56 AM

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Qatar 'planning biggest budget for 2009'

Gulf state set to buck global trend by announcing increase in project spending.

While the rest of the world struggles to cope with the economic crisis, Qatar is planning to announce its largest ever budget for 2009 with an increase in spending on development projects, it was claimed on Monday.

Infrastructure projects, including health, education and housing, are likely to be accorded priority in allocations on expenditure in the new budget.

At least 40 percent of the budget allocation is expected to be diverted to development projects, sources told Qatar daily The Peninsula in comments published on Monday.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has begun preparations to frame the budgetary estimates for the new financial year which begins on April 1, the paper added.

The preparation of the draft is likely to begin from the middle of the next month.

“We expect the budgetary estimates for the new fiscal year to reflect on the robust health of the national economy, its performance and its trustworthiness,” a source told the paper.

"It’s a great achievement for Qatar because at a time when many countries around the world are faced with a severe liquidity crunch, we are expected to continue with spending on growth since we remain unaffected."

Qatar's gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter of 2008 totalled 108.4 billion riyals ($29 billion), a 63 percent increase on the same period in 2007.

The oil and gas sector contributed the lion’s share (73 percent), latest figures from the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA) revealed.

And on Sunday, George Abed, senior advisor to the managing director of the Institute of International Finance (IIF), predicted Qatar would be the Gulf's best performer in 2009 with nine percent GDP growth, compared to about 1.2 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 2.3 per cent in the UAE, 1.2 per cent in Kuwait, and nearly five per cent in Oman and Bahrain.

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