UAE swings into $11 billion fiscal surplus in 2011: IMF

Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:22am EDT
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By Martin Dokoupil

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates' public finances swung into a surplus of 2.9 percent of economic output in 2011 after two years of deficits as robust oil income offset an increase in government spending, a report by the International Monetary Fund showed.

The world's No. 3 oil exporter booked a consolidated fiscal surplus of 38.6 billion dirhams ($10.5 billion) compared with a deficit of 23.0 billion, or 2.1 percent of gross domestic product, in 2010, according to Reuters calculations based on IMF estimates and government data.

However, the 2011 surplus was only a fraction of fiscal surpluses enjoyed before the global financial crisis. They averaged 167 billion dirhams annually in 2006-2008.

The data consolidate the accounts of the federal government with those of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two largest emirates in the seven-member UAE, as well as Sharjah.

The government has not yet released consolidated figures for 2011. Oil-rich Abu Dhabi, which accounts for around 78 percent of overall spending in the UAE, does not publish its yearly budget plans and outcomes.

Government spending in the UAE, the second largest Arab economy, surged over 19 percent to an estimated all-time high of 401.5 billion dirhams in 2011, according to the IMF. That was nearly 56 percent above the 2008 level.

Consolidated revenue is estimated to have soared 41 percent to 440.1 billion dirhams, a three-year high, with hydrocarbon income accounting for over 82 percent, showed the report, which the IMF released after consultations with UAE authorities.

Unlike other countries in the Middle East, the UAE has not been hit by the wave of social unrest which started last year, but it has raised public spending to avert tensions. It has a cradle-to-grave welfare system and its per capita income of $48,200 is one of the highest in the world.   Continued...