x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Iraq sets aside $79bn on public spending

the government announced a 58 per cent jump of spending on reconstruction, public utilities and welfare next year.

BAGHDAD // Iraq will spend nearly US$79 billion (Dh290bn) on reconstruction, public utilities and welfare next year, a 58 per cent jump from this year, the government announced today. Higher oil prices have swollen earnings from petroleum by 65 per cent and this source accounts for 93.6 per cent of the country's budgeted income for next year, the government said. Iraq plans capital spending of $18.6bn, up 43 per cent, while recurring expenditure is forecast at $60bn, an increase of 63 per cent from this year, the statement said.

The government gave no details of expected revenue for next year, but said the projected fiscal deficit for next year is about $16bn. It was not immediately clear how the government proposes to bridge the deficit. Washington said last month that Iraq was amassing a huge budget surplus as oil export revenues were soaring and it was spending little on reconstruction. The US Government Accounting Office (GAO) said the country had amassed a surplus of up to $79.3bn out of revenues of up to $182.2bn since 2005. Little of that money was going to maintaining and rebuilding key civil infrastructure, the GAO report said in August.