The Ministry of Finance (MoF) raised the 2019 federal budget draft to the UAE Cabinet as part of the Five-Year Federal Budget Plan (2017-2021). At AED60.3 billion, it represents a 17.3% increase on the total budget appropriation for 2018. The Ministry also launched the eDMobile application, the new innovative e-Dirham initiative to support smart government programs, and reviewed the e-Dirham’s key results in 2018. These announcements were made this morning at a press round table held at the Ministry of Finance’s premises in Abu Dhabi, in the presence of HE Younis Haji Al Khoori, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance, HE Saeed Rashid Al Yateem, Assistant Undersecretary of Resources and Budget Sector at MoF and Azza Al Suwaidi, Director of Public Revenues.
According to HE Younis Haji Al-Khoori, MoF raised the federal budget draft for the fiscal year 2019 to the UAE Cabinet, where the average increase in the financial allocations for the budget of 2019 amounted to 23.9% compared to the budget cycle for 2014/2016.
HE Al Khoori said: “MoF held a workshop for all the federal entities to train their specialists on the procedures, policies and rules used to prepare the federal budget draft, in accordance with the zero-budget system of the Federal Government, as well as to clarify and explain the decisions and the financial circular issued on the preparation of the draft federal budget for 2019. The ministry also held workshops on the policies relevant to financial transfers during the second half of 2018.”
The 2019 federal budget was distributed to the various sectors as follows:
First: Social Development and Social Benefits
The allocation to the social development and social benefits programs, estimated at AED25.5 billion, representing 42.3% of the total budget while the allocations for public education, higher and university education programs amount to AED10.3 billion, representing 17% of the total budget. Costs estimated for public education programs amount to AED6.7 billion, representing 11.1% of the total budget and costs estimated for higher and tertiary education programs amount to AED3.6 billion, or 6.0% of the total budget. From the aforementioned budget, AED1.4 billion is dedicated to the UAE University, AED1 billion is allocated to Higher Colleges of Technology while AED435 million is dedicated to Zayed University. The appropriations for health care and community protection amount to AED4.4 billion, representing 7.3% of the total budget.
The allocated funds for programs to guarantee social rights and activate community integration in the Ministry of Community Development amounts to AED3.2 billion, representing 5.3% of the total budget, to ensure the State provides support to the segmentsand special groups in need of assistance. In addition, AED 1.6 billion, amounting to 2.6%, is allocated to the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme to provide suitable housing for UAE nationals. The allocations to the social benefits - pension programme amount to AED4.5 billion, representing 7.4% of the total budget.
HE Younis Haji Al Khoori said: “MoF has been keen on developing the federal general budget for the fiscal year 2019 to achieve the vision and direction of the UAE's wise leadership, who stressed the need to provide a decent life for retired citizens and military personnel, provide the highest security and justice services for both nationals and residents and provide world-class educational programs, as they aid future generations reach a knowledge-based economy."
Second: Government Affairs Sector
A total of AED22.6 billion, or 37.4% of the total budget, is allocated to the Department of Government Affairs and AED2.5 billion is allocated to the policies program to maintain clear policies that support the nation’s relations regionally and globally and AED944 million allocated to improving the judicial system of the nation. AED1.7 billion, or 2.8% of the total budget is allocated to support infrastructure and economy development, while AED21 billion, or 34.8% is earmarked for social development.
Third: Federal Projects
Financial allocations for projects implemented by ministries and federal entities are recorded at a value of AED841 million, in addition to the projects implemented by the Federal Authority for Electricity and Water, which are estimated at AED1.2 billion. AED1.5 billion is allocated to Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme projects and AED171 million for the UAE Space Agency projects. The Ministry of Education’s projects will receive financial allocations amounting to AED4 million to supplement school projects, while Ministry of the Interior will receive AED251 to establish police stations, civil defence centres, naturalisation and residency administration offices and scientific laboratories. AED10 million is allocated for the Ministry of Health and Community Protection’s project, AED66.5 million for Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, AED5 million is allocated to the Ministry of Justice, in addition to AED497 million for the Ministry of Infrastructure Development’s projects.
Total Combined Budget
The combined budget includes the budgets of ministries and autonomous federal entities, including government support and their revenue, with the total consolidated budget for the fiscal year 2019 amounting to AED 69.3 billion distributed over the different payment groups. The total consolidated budget for the next three years is expected to be approximately AED 200.0 billion. The funds allocated to provide government services to all members of society according to the highest quality standards amount to AED22.7 billion, or 32.7% of the total 2019 federal budget.
The financial allocations for infrastructure and economic resources amount to AED9.8 billion, representing 14.2% of the total budget. The funds allocated to social development amount to AED21.7 billion, representing 31.3%.
The social benefits and pensions program for retirees amounts to AED4.5 billion, representing 6.5% of the consolidated budget. Subsidies, grants and other expenses amount to AED8.6 billion, representing 12.4% of the consolidated budget for 2019, while financial assets amount to about AED2 billion representing 2.9%.
HE Younis Haji Al Khoori said: “The 2019 consolidated general budget reflects the significant development of the UAE, the growth in the revenues of the federal entities, as well as the ability and commitment of these entities to achieve the strategic objectives adopted in accordance with the UAE Vision 2021.”
On innovation, Al Khoori said: “MoF has contributed to the establishment of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund, with an allocation of AED2 billion to provide financing solutions to innovators and to support them in transforming their ideas into projects that contribute to the national strategy for innovation and realization of the UAE Vision 2021. The UAE maintained its leading position in the Arab world and was ranked 35th in the world, achieving a leap in position among top-tier countries in the most innovative rankings of the 2018 Global Innovation Index.”
During the conference, HE Saeed Rashid Al-Yateem highlighted the main features of the eDMobile application, which allows customers to access e-Dirham services with the ability to perform e-payment transactions using multiple payment methods, download and view brochures, help pages, view latest news and advertisement banners.
HE Saeed Rashid Al Yateem said: “MoF continues its efforts to develop digital payment services and smart government services as part of its contribution to the achievement of the objectives of the national agenda, the UAE Vision 2021, as well as the development of the digital future industry in the country, which will in turn enable optimal utilization of human and financial resources and enhance the efficiency and accuracy of systems.”
HE added: “The eDMobile is the latest addition to the free digital government services that enable customers to pay all charges on their smartphones, website or point of sale. The eDMobile is an electronic wallet that includes all the customer payment cards, thus it’s an actual replacement of the plastic cards and physical wallet where the user can make payments electronically.”
HE Saeed Rashid Al-Yateem stressed the keenness of the Ministry and the e-Dirham system to provide secure and effective cash payment channels. The customer can issue several codes through the wallet and without any delay or confirmation of any payments on the customers' cards. They want to make the payment within a certain financial ceiling and the code will be confirmed once the payment is made only to confirm the payment limit and balance.
Customers can pay their bills to the entities registered in the application through the eDmobile wallet, while through the wallet management users can check and validate the virtual wallet balance, including the passcode and activation management for the virtual wallet. Also the user would be able to add any other credit, debit or e-Dirham card to the wallet to be used for payment. The cards can be added automatically using the card scanning feature or manually by inputting card details. Customers are, however, required to identify their primary virtual card.
The Tokenization function allows the user to generate a one-time use code with a ceiling limit to execute a payment. This function can be used when the wallet user wants to authorize someone to make a payment on their behalf, without the need for cash or the physical card. The tokens can be generated from the virtual wallet or any registered card within the wallet. The e-Wallet application can be downloaded from the Google Play and Apple Store and create a default virtual account that does not expire.
The eDMobile enables customers to check the balance of registered cards or any other card, review and issue an operation statement for any of the selected cards, as well as verify the last ten transactions. Users will be able to learn about all the e-Dirham news through the wallet, submit feedback, request for support for the e-Dirham cards and services, as well as download the forms related to various e-Dirham services.
With regards to the e-Dirham system, HE Saeed Rashid Al-Yateem said that the revenues of the system during the first half of 2018 exceeded AED11.8 billion, achieving a growth of 52.33% compared to the same period in 2017. The number of cards issued for e-Dirham services exceeded 3.7 million cards, while the number of receipts reached 11,385,661 in the first half of 2018.
Hana Al Rostamani, Head of Personal Banking Group, First Abu Dhabi Bank, said: "As a strategic partner for Ministry of Finance in the e-Dirham program, FAB is committed to always deliver according to the agreed development roadmap for the program to ensure benchmarking this payment system to the ranks of the global industry standards. Through the realization of this project, we are ensuring that e-Dirham is continuously adapting the latest technologies in the payment industry for smart phones and all its related platforms.”
The average speed of processing any transaction through the e-Dirham system is only 1.02 second, while the average speed of processing a transaction through POS devices is 1.1 second. The Ministry of Finance launched the e-Dirham initiative in 2001 to provide a formal platform for e-payment, revenue collection and service fees in government and semi-governmental institutions. The system adopts the latest technologies and systems in the field of secure and effective digital payment.