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Qatar posts small $55 mln surplus in first quarter as oil prices lift revenues

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Qatar posted a 200 million riyals ($55 million) surplus in the first quarter this year, helped by a recovery in oil prices, the ministry of finance said on Thursday.

The Gulf state, the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer, saw total revenue of 45.2 billion riyals in the first three months of the year against 45 billion riyals in expenditure, the ministry said in a statement.

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The economy shrank 3.7 percent last year due to the coronavirus crisis and weak oil demand.

“Nevertheless, the recorded contraction was smaller than the initially projected 4.5 percent by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) during the onset of the pandemic,” the ministry said.

Qatar expects real gross domestic product to grow 2.2 percent this year thanks to the rollout of vaccines, a gradual easing of coronavirus-related restrictions and an increase in oil demand and prices.

Public debt in the first quarter remained unchanged when compared with the end of 2020, at 381.9 billion riyals, as there were no new issuances and no maturities, the ministry said.

On a yearly basis, public debt decreased by 1.9 percent despite a $10 billion bond issuance last year, partly thanks to early redemptions of some debt.

“At current oil prices, the Ministry of Finance is not anticipated to require any financing for the State Budget during 2021,” the ministry said, adding it intends to redeem $4.2 billion in external debt maturities in full.

Read more: Qatar Petroleum plans debut dollar public bond sale: Sources