UAE back into $11bn fiscal surplus for 2011

City A.M. Reporter
THE United Arab Emirates’ public finances swung into a surplus of 2.9 per cent 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 yesterday.

The world’s third biggest oil exporter booked a consolidated fiscal surplus of 38.6bn dirhams (£6.8bn) compared with a deficit of 23bn, or 2.1 per cent of gross domestic product, in 2010, according to 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 167bn 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 per cent of overall spending in the UAE, does not publish yearly budget outcomes.

Government spending in the UAE, the second largest Arab economy, surged over 19 per cent to an estimated all-time high of 401.5bn dirhams in 2011, according to the IMF.