UAE approves $12.5 billion federal budget for 2014

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The United Arab Emirates approved a federal budget of 46 billion dirhams ($12.5 billion) for 2014, half of which will go for development and social benefits, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said on Sunday.

The projected federal spending of the world's No. 3 crude oil exporter is slightly higher than the 44.6 billion dirhams originally penciled in for 2013.

“I requested all the ministers to efficiently spend their budgets in the interest of the citizens’ happiness and welfare,” Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Dubai’s ruler, wrote on his official Twitter account.

He did not provide a figure for revenue in the budget, which was approved as a part of a three-year federal spending plan of 140 billion dirhams for 2014-2016.

By comparison, the 2011-2013 budget had provided for total expenditure of 133 billion dirhams.

The UAE federal budget accounts for only around 14 percent of overall fiscal spending in the UAE. The seven individual emirates, mainly oil-producing Abu Dhabi, make up the rest.

Sheikh Mohammed said 21 percent of the 2014 budget, which would be nearly 9.7 billion dirhams, had been allocated to education.

Other allocations included 3.7 billion to health, 1.4 billion for housing programs, 18.5 billion for other government services and 400 million for the marriage fund, “all subject to increase when necessary”, he added.

On an aggregate basis, the UAE and the emirates together are expected to run a budget surplus of 6.9 percent of gross domestic product this year and 6.6 percent in 2014, a Reuters poll of analysts showed in September.

The OPEC member, which pegs the dirham to the U.S. dollar, does not publish its consolidated fiscal data on a regular basis.

The International Monetary Fund recently estimated the UAE’s consolidated government spending in 2012 at a record 306.8 billion dirhams, citing finance ministry figures.

Last year's surplus was 188.1 billion, or 13.3 percent of GDP, the highest level since 2008, the Fund said.

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