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Qatar Reforms Budget Policy, Pushes Back Fiscal Year End

 Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al -Thani, issued a law Tuesday on the financial system of the State that will push back the end of fiscal year 2014/2015 for the General State budget to December 31 from March 31, the official Qatar News Agency reports.

The new financial system law will also give additional power to the finance ministry for reforms which are designed to help the government carry out tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure projects, Reuters reports.

The new law unifies the legislative framework for fiscal policy to ensure compatibility in the financial performance of the public sector, modernization of the State financial management system, and keeps pace with the global financial system, Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi said, according to Qatar’s Peninsula newspaper.

The Finance Minister added that the new law provides a framework for the application of international standards in the management of public finances, particularly in regard to the preparation, implementation, and control of the budget and final account. It also aims to protect public funds, and consolidate transparency and separation of powers, mutual oversight, through the adoption of the general budget law, according to the Peninsula newspaper.

The new law will also give the finance ministry authority to prioritize economic development projects, request aid from other government councils and ministries, and issue government debt in local or foreign markets in coordination with the central bank, Reuters reports.

The state budget for the current fiscal year to March 31, which originally envisaged a 3.7 percent rise in government spending to 218.4 billion riyals ($59.98 billion), will be extended to the end of 2015, according to Reuters.

2022 FIFA World Cup QatarThe transition in the change of the fiscal year end will not affect any of the government’s planned projects and investments, Emadi said.

As Qatar gears up to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatari officials have said that the nation planned to spend as much as $200 billion on transport, electricity generation, water supply, housing and various other projects between 2013 and 2018.

The new law may allow the finance ministry to carry out such projects more efficiently by cutting bureaucratic red tape that has threatening to delay projects, Reuters said.

Although the plunge of oil and natural gas prices since mid-2014 has hurt Qatar’s state finances, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is so wealthy that economists believe that it’s able to continue spending heavily, however some of the projects could be delayed or scaled back out of prudence, Reuters said.

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