Qatar’s economy not affected by lower oil prices: emir

Qatar’s economy depends heavily on state spending funded by the coutnry’s gas exports

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Qatar’s emir said on Tuesday that the Gulf state’s economy would not be affected by the slide in oil prices, as its state budget was based on conservative assumptions.

“Dear brothers, we are currently facing a decline in the price of oil and fuel...” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani told a session of the country’s Shura Council, an advisory body.

“I just would like to emphasise here that our economy is strong and solid, (and) will not be affected by such developments, and our budget is based on a very conservative estimate of the price of fuel.”

Qatar’s economy, currently growing at a rate of about 6 percent, depends heavily on state spending funded by the coutnry’s gas exports.

But energy prices still appear far from levels that would push government finances into the red.

Qatar plans to increase government spending by 3.7 percent to 218.4 billion riyals ($60 billion) in the 2014/15 fiscal year ending next March, the QNA state news agency said earlier this year, quoting from a budget approved by the ruler.

The budget assumed an average oil price of $65 a barrel during the year; Brent crude oil is now around $82.

Sheikh Tamim also said on Tuesday that the government was focusing on making its spending more efficient, and cracking down on waste and misuse of state funds - themes that he has stressed since he took over from his father last year.

“Waste and extravagance and mishandling of state funds, and lack of respect for the budget, and relying on the availability of money to cover up mistakes, are behaviours (that) must be eradicated whether oil prices are high or low.”

Sheikh Tamim said authorities would continue efforts to curb inflation by coordinating fiscal and monetary policies, and schedule infrastructure projects to avoid dislocating the economy. The government is working on new legislation that will help the private sector to develop, he added without giving details.

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