The United Arab Emirates cabinet on Sunday approved a big increase in the federal budget for next year, in a sign that the government aims to spend more actively to boost economic growth.
The 2019 federal budget of 60.3 billion dirhams ($16.4 billion) is 17.3 percent higher than the 51.4 billion dirhams approved for 2018, and is the UAE’s largest ever, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said on Twitter.
The federal budget accounts for only a small fraction of consolidated state spending in the UAE; individual emirates such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai also have their own budget.
Nevertheless, the federal budget is an indication of official plans for the economy. The sharp spending increase for 2019 compares to a rise of just 5.5 percent in the original budget for 2018.
The federal government may have more room to spend because of a sharp rise in oil prices over recent month; Brent crude futures are trading at over $82 a barrel, a four-year high.
Of the 2019 budget, 42.3 percent will be spent on community development programs, 17.0 percent on education and 7.3 percent on health care, according to state news agency WAM.
Sheikh Mohammed also said the cabinet had approved a three- year federal budget of 180 billion dirhams, which would not feature any deficit.