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Mon 12 Mar 2012 02:09 PM

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Qatar will see "little increase" in budget - finance minister

Budget for next fiscal year will be roughly the same as current year, says Youssef Kamal

Qatar will see "little increase" in budget - finance minister
"It will be the same size as the prevailing budget, maybe a little increase."

Qatar's state budget for next fiscal year will be roughly the same size as the current year's budget, finance and economy minister Youssef Kamal said on Monday.

"It will be the same size as the prevailing budget, maybe a little increase," he told reporters.

Previously, an economic adviser to the country's emir had said last month that budget spending for the 2012/13 fiscal year, which starts on April 1, would be much higher than in the current year. Kamal did not explain the contradictory statements or give details.

Last week, Qatar's state news agency, citing a decision by the cabinet, reported that the deadline for releasing the state budget for the coming fiscal year would be pushed back to the end of May because of changes to the government's accounting system and the way it prepares budgets. The annual budget is usually announced by April 1.

In its 2011/12 budget, the world's top liquefied natural gas exporter originally planned spending worth QR139.9bn (US$38.4bn) and a surplus of QR22.5bn, or 4.9 percent of gross domestic product.

Partly in response to political unrest elsewhere in the Middle East, Qatar hiked basic salaries and social benefits for the state's civilian employees by 60 percent last September, while military staff received 50-120 percent rises. The International Monetary Fund estimated such extra social spending would add $1.6 billion to expenditure in 2011/12.

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