DUBAI Nov 13 Qatar's government budget slipped
into a deficit of 18.5 billion riyals ($5.1 billion) in the
first quarter of its 2012/13 fiscal year, preliminary data from
the central bank showed on Tuesday.
The fiscal shortfall of the world's No. 1 exporter of
liquefied natural gas was equivalent to 10.7 percent of gross
domestic product in the period, according to the central bank.
It was wider than the 2.2 billion-riyal gap, or 1.4 percent
of GDP, seen in the same quarter of last year.
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 54.3 billion-riyal surplus
in last fiscal year, the biggest since at least 2005/06, despite
a surge in spending on public sector wages.
Expenditure fell about 14 percent from a year earlier to
29.5 billion riyals in April-June, accounting for some 17
percent of the full-year spending plan, the data showed.
Revenue stood at 11.0 billion, 66 percent down from the same
period a year ago. Oil and gas-related revenue accounts for
roughly 70 percent of Qatar's overall budget income.
The Gulf Arab state, which pegs its riyal currency to the
U.S. dollar, plans to boost spending to 178.6 billion riyals in
the current fiscal year, including wages, services and projects,
but expects a comfortable surplus of 27.8 billion riyals.
In September 2011 Qatar, which has avoided social unrest
that swept the Arab world last year, 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 over 10 percent of GDP on average on
infrastructure in the run-up to hosting the soccer World Cup
tournament in 2022.