Country Listing

Qatar Table of Contents



Oil and gas revenues make up 90 percent of government revenue, and government spending is the primary means of injecting these earnings into the economy. Given the small size of the local market, government spending generates most of the economic activity. Because of increased involvement in the international economic scene, in April 1989 Qatar's fiscal year was changed from the Islamic to the Gregorian calendar.

Large budget surpluses in the 1970s funded major development projects, with government spending leveling off and dropping in the 1980s, years of more modest oil revenues. After years of surpluses, the government had a deficit of nearly QR8 billion in 1983. The government has attempted to keep deficits down by reducing the number of new projects and delaying those under way. In addition, the fiscal situation of the regime can often be gauged by the amount of time required to pay contractors.

Budgets offer only a rough estimate of actual government spending. Many significant items, such as military and amirate expenses, do not appear. Projections are consistently conservative, and deficits often are lower than predicted. In the 1986-87 period, when oil prices plummeted, the government did not even announce a budget. Restrained spending in recent years has meant frustration for contractors relying on government contracts, but the policy has also led to ever-shrinking deficits. The budget continued to show a deficit in the early 1990s (see table 22, Appendix).

Overseas assets are estimated at between US$10 and US$14 billion. These assets have been periodically tapped to make up for shortfalls in oil revenues.

Data as of January 1993