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Ten takeaways from Dubai’s 2015 budget

Only 13 percent of the budget has been allocated for infrastructure spending compared to 17 percent in fiscal 2014.

Dubai has kicked off the New Year by unveiling a deficit-free budget for 2015, the first-ever since the 2008 financial meltdown. Here are 10 things you should know:

1) Fiscal prudence was the order of the day as the AED41 billion-budget broke even and eliminated the budget deficit, which was envisaged at AED882 million in 2014 and AED1.5bn during 2013

2) Expenditure will not be curtailed going forward though, and is set to increase by nine per cent from the balance of fiscal year 2014

3) This will be financed by an 11 percent projected increase in public revenues. The increase represents a slower pace as compared to fiscal 2014 when Dubai’s government had managed a 13 per cent rise in receipts. But tax revenues, up 12 per cent, have shown an exponential jump as compared to a year ago when they grew only by one per cent. Revenue from government services, which represents 74 per cent of total government revenue, too, is expected to increase by 22 per cent compared to 2014

4)  The budget has shown an operating surplus of AED3.6bn, which means its recurring revenue this year is expected to be higher than recurring expenses

5)  Revenue dependence on oil is fast waning, accounting for only four per cent of government revenue this fiscal, and a five-per cent reduction from fiscal 2014

6)  A focus on jobs is evident in the budget. New employment opportunities numbering 2,530 are likely to be created in fiscal 2015 as compared to 1,650 posts in fiscal 2014. The good news is, government expenditure on salaries and wages has remained unchanged at 37 per cent 

7) Infrastructure spending has slowed down. Only 13 per cent of the budget has been allocated for spending on the sector as compared to 17 per cent in fiscal 2014. For infrastructure, transportation and economic sectors as a whole too, the allocation this year at 36 per cent is a notch lower than last year’s 37 per cent

8) Health, education and housing sectors will receive a boost as 35 per cent of expenditure has been earmarked for social development in these areas, comparable to the figures last year

9) Security, justice and safety allocations stand at 22 per cent, up from 21 per cent last year
10) Dubai is spending a smaller portion of the budget in servicing debts this year. There is a six per cent allocation for debt service as compared to 11 per cent, which was spent on bond interest payments last year

This article by Nikhil Inamdar was first published in TRENDS, a sister publication of AMEinfo.