Qatar’s government is spending some $500 million a week on capital projects around the country, its Minister of Finance has said.
That pace of spending could continue for the next three to four years as the nation prepares for the 2022 World Cup, Ali Sherif Al Emadi said, according to AFP.
“That doesn’t mean the stadiums only, we are talking about highways, rail, ports, airports, those are really underway, even hospitals and everything,” the minister said to reporters who were on a press trip to Doha.
“We are really giving ourselves a good chance of delivering things on time and we don’t want to get in a place that we start painting while people are coming to the country.”
Despite the huge expenditures, Al Emadi confirmed that austerity measures around Qatar will continue.
Last year, lower oil prices caused the country to run its first budget deficit in more than a decade.
This year’s budget slightly cuts spending and projects a smaller deficit of $7.8 billion, compared to $12.8 billion in 2016.
In response to fiscal pressures, the government has consolidated its ministries, partially lifted petrol subsidies and postponed some construction projects.
There is also plan to introduce a value-added tax next year, though Al Emadi said yesterday that this might be postponed until 2019, AP reports.
Qatar’s Emir has also denounced extravagance and urged citizens to spend more “reasonably.”
Additionally, thousands of people have been laid off in the oil and gas industry and by other companies in the past two years.
That said, hiring is picking up at least in the healthcare industry as several hospitals near completion.