Qatar prioritizing health, education, transport projects
Qatar is proceeding with planned economic development projects despite cheaper oil and is prioritizing those related to health, education and transport, finance minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi said on Sunday.
"Despite the drop in oil prices, we are still going ahead with our planned projects," Emadi said in a speech.
"We will give priority to projects related to health, education, infrastructure, transportation including rail, and projects related to the 2022 World Cup," he said. Qatar will host the global soccer tournament.
A financial system law issued by the emir earlier this month gives the finance ministry more authority to prioritize development projects and enlist the aid of other government councils and ministries, in an apparent effort to reduce red tape and waste, and avoid corruption.
Qatari officials have said they planned to spend as much as about $200 billion on transport, electricity generation, water supply, housing and other projects between 2013 and 2018.
The plunge of oil and natural gas prices since mid-2014 has hurt Qatar's state finances, and there are signs that spending has become more cautious; some projects are being delayed or cut back. In January, state-owned Qatar Petroleum and Shell said they had decided not to proceed with the $6.4 billion Al Karaana petrochemical project in Qatar.
Nevertheless, the world's largest gas exporter is so wealthy that economists think it will be able to keep spending heavily; a Reuters poll of analysts in January found them predicting Qatar would continue running a budget surplus in 2015 and 2016.