Social is focal: UAE's $67.5B, five-year budget targets citizens' welfare

Published November 1st, 2016 - 08:00 GMT
The UAE is the first Arab country to prepare a five-year budget in line with the national goal to improve the level of social services and smart government initiatives. (Shutterstock)
The UAE is the first Arab country to prepare a five-year budget in line with the national goal to improve the level of social services and smart government initiatives. (Shutterstock)

The UAE cabinet on Sunday approved a Dh248 billion five-year budget that primarily focuses on education, community welfare and health.

For 2017, the cabinet unveiled a spending plan of Dh48.7 billion in line with the UAE leadership’s vision of ensuring “happiness of its people” while providing “security and a decent life for them.”

Of the 2017 budget, around Dh25.2 billion has been allocated to sectors affecting the lives of UAE citizens. While 20.5 per cent of the spending, or Dh10.2 billion, has been earmarked for the general and higher education sector, 8.6 per cent or Dh4.2 billion has been set aside for healthcare, 8.2 per cent or Dh4 billion for pensions, 6.6 per cent or Dh3.2 billion to social development and 3.3 per cent or Dh1.6 billion for housing. 

“Utilising the financial resources to achieve the highest degree of prosperity and welfare of the citizens and residents is a priority,” said His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Stressing that education, health and community welfare are key pillars for the development of the society, Shaikh Mohammed, who chaired the cabinet meeting, said the government seeks to provide all the means and capabilities to meet the requirements of the national vision. This will make it one of the best governments in the world through the optimal use of resources to enhance services provided to citizens and residents.

The cabinet meeting, held at the Presidential Palace, was attended by Lt.-General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The UAE is the first Arab country to prepare a five-year budget in line with the national goal to improve the level of social services and smart government initiatives. 

The 2017 budget has allocated 42 per cent or Dh20.7 billion for government affairs “to provide the finest services to citizens and achieve the vision  ensuring the security and safety of its citizens and residents.

The budget has allocated Dh3.3 billion for federal projects, of which Dh891 million was set aside for federal ministerial projects, and Dh771 million for the development of power and water projects.  Dh1.4 billion goes for projects under the Shaikh Zayed Housing Programe, and Dh13.5 million for the projects of the Ministry of Education. In addition, Dh215 million was allocated to establish police and civil defence centres, and headquarters of naturalisation and residence, and scientific laboratories.

Dh2 billion has been set aside to supporting government innovation, through the establishment of the Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation. It will provide financing solutions for innovators and incubation support to turn their ideas into projects that will support the national strategy for innovation and achieving the goals of Vision 2021.

The budget underscores the fact that the government is pressing ahead with its various development and social welfare programmes irrespective of a plunge in oil revenues. According to the International Monetary Fund, the UAE will post a 3.9 per cent deficit this year, and a 1.9 per cent deficit next year. 

The cabinet also approved the final accounts of the Emirates Transport and Al Etihad Credit Bureau for the year 2015 along with the adoption of the funding differences for federal universities and colleges for the first and second semesters for the academic year 2015-2016.

By Isaac John
 

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