Sharjah Ruler approves emirate's 2023 budget with $8.8bn expenditure

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Sharjah's Ruler Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi approved the emirate's Dh32.2 billion ($8.76 billion) budget for 2023 that prioritises spending on infrastructure, capital projects and economic development.

Spending, 12 per cent lower than in last year's budget, is aimed at achieving financial sustainability and improving the emirate's economic competitiveness, the Sharjah Finance Department said in a statement on Monday. “The general budget for the year 2023 is a budget with two dimensions, which are economic and social development and infrastructure, and a strategic dimension, represented in developing and strengthening the financial sustainability of the government,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud Al Qasimi​, chairman of Sharjah Finance Department, said.

Sharjah has been experiencing strong growth after its government took several measures to support businesses and residents to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The emirate introduced Dh1 billion of economic stimulus measures in 2020 in response to the economic challenges caused by the global crisis, which included the waiving, reduction or cancellation of certain government fees and charges.

The 2023 budget aims to achieve financial sustainability and enhance the emirate’s economic competitiveness.

About 35 per cent of the budget will be allocated to infrastructure and capital projects, 34 per cent to economic development, 28 per cent to salaries and 23 per cent to social development.

Spending on social support will constitute 13 per cent of the budget, up 5 per cent on last year's allocation, as part of welfare and social justice efforts.

Operating expenses will represent 30 per cent of the 2023 budget, a decrease of 4 per cent from last year, the finance department said.

Loan repayments and interest accounted for 13 per cent of the total budget this year, underscoring the government's ability and financial solvency to pay all its obligations, it said.

Spending was rationalised in areas that do not add value to the emirate's competitiveness and financial sustainability, so the 12 per cent year-on-year decrease in expenditure for 2023 does not impact key areas such as employment or economic and social development, said Waleed Al Sayegh, director general of the Sharjah Finance Department.

In terms of government revenue, operational revenue represents 69 per cent of the total budget for 2023, an increase of 11 per cent from last year's levels.

Capital revenue constitutes 11 per cent of next year's budget.

Tax revenue represents about 10 per cent of total public revenue in 2023, with an increase of about 48 per cent year-on-year.

Customs revenue accounted for 4 per cent, an increase of about 4 per cent from last year.

Oil and gas revenue constituted about 6 per cent of the total revenue budget for 2023, a jump of 96 per cent compared to last year.

The budget is targeted at strengthening the financial foundations to boost government capabilities in the face of global challenges including high inflation, rising interest rates and weaker economic growth worldwide, the finance department said.

The Sharjah government, through the general budget, has taken into account these challenges, Mr Al Sayegh said. It is working on providing social support, job opportunities and adequate housing for families, he added.

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