Qatar's deficit in the fourth quarter of 2020 is expected to be almost twice that of the previous three quarters put together; but will be covered by the funds available to it from the previous debt issuances in the global financial market, according to the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
The deficit in the first three quarters amounted to QR4.2bn. The deficit in the fourth quarter is expected to reach QR7.5bn. Overall, in 2020, the total expected deficit will reach QR11.7bn, the MoF said in an explanatory note presented along with the 2021 budget.
These estimates are still preliminary, as the actual performance of the public budget will be reviewed with the final realisations being announced on the MoF website at a later date, it said.
It was expected that the general budget for the fiscal year 2020 would achieve a surplus of about QR500mn, based on an average oil price of $55 per barrel.
“However, due to the negative implications of the Covid-19 pandemic and the decline in oil prices, a deficit of QR11.7bn is anticipated in 2020," the note said.
The deficit estimate is calculated taking into account the decline in revenue to QR170.5bn, a result of the drop in oil prices to a level lower than the budget estimate of $55 per barrel, it said.
Oil revenues are estimated to decline 21.4% year-on-year to QR132bn and non-oil earnings by 10.5% to QR38.5bn in 2020.
The country has taken several measures to limit the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the decline on global energy prices on the public budget.
"The ministry’s consolidation efforts resulted in a 13.4% reduction of the State's budget expenditures to QR182.2bn," it said, adding some allocations for secondary items have been rationalised within the salaries and wages expenditure, yielding a decrease of 2.5% from the declared expenditure.
The MoF was able to maintain current expenditure at the approved budget level despite the increased spending requirements due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which was achieved by reducing spending on items that do not affect the operational capabilities of government agencies.
Some non-priority projects that are not contracted and are not related to hosting the 2022 World Cup have been postponed, while ongoing and committed priority projects continue, it said.
The projects completed this year include 5,045 new citizens' land plots that have been delivered that are integrated with a comprehensive infrastructure (roads; sewage networks; rainwater drainage; street lighting; communication works; connecting water and electricity networks through Kahramaa).
The infrastructure has been developed in the existing areas corresponding to the population density with expanded sewage networks, rain water drainage, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and car parks (New Salata; Bani Hajer; Al Sailiya).
The opening of the 13km first phase of the Sabah Al-Ahmad Corridor and the opening of The Pearl Tunnels, Lusail Expressway and the completion of the highway network project.
The Olympic track has been completed on the Al Khor Cycling Road, which is 33km long, with five air bridges and 29 bicycle tunnels, and tree planting at pedestrian paths along the track. The Towers Park and 5th of June Park have been handed over.