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The UAE Cabinet, presided over by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, . WAM Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: The UAE cabinet on Sunday approved a Dh48 billion federal budget with zero deficit for the fiscal year 2016 that places maximum emphasis on areas such as social development, education and health.

The budget and sector-wise financial allocation for the next fiscal year was approved during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai attended by Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

Shaikh Mohammad said the UAE Government strategies are following the direction of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to utilise all resources to ensure the happiness of the Emirati people as well as strengthen the image of the UAE.

“Investing in Emiratis and meeting their needs are the basis of government work and has a priority in the National Agenda to reach the goals of the UAE 2021 Vision. Our priorities in the 2016 budget will be geared towards social development, education and health. Maintaining the first rank requires having all resources that enable the Emirati people and its government to reach these goals,” said Shaikh Mohammad.

The 2016 federal government budget gives priority to services that touch on the lives of the people and more than 50 per cent of the budget has been allocated to sectors such as education, social development, public services and health.

While education received the maximum allocation of 21.2 per cent of the Federal budget, social development public services and health were allocated 15.4 per cent, 11.1 per cent and 7.9 per cent respectively.

The budget has also allocated amounts for other sectors, such as defence, housing, public safety, economy, environment and culture.

Climate change

In addition to the Federal budget, the UAE Cabinet on Sunday approved the submission of the UAE’s Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC), an outline of actions the UAE aims to take to combat climate change, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The proposed climate action plan reflects the UAE’s economic diversification strategy and its commitment to sustainable development, which harnesses innovation and green growth to ensure prosperity and environmental protection. The country’s national target to generate 24 per cent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2021 reinforces its contribution to climate action.

The Cabinet adopted the National Emiratisation Strategy in the banking and insurance sector. Emiratisation in the UAE is a national priority. By issuing policies and initiatives, the UAE Government seeks to create and foster a work environment that attracts Emiratis in public and private sectors at large. The government is also cooperating with relevant entities to utilise the skills of Emiratis to meet the needs of the labour market.

Promoting tourism

Being a hub for organisations, the Cabinet approved the inauguration of an office for the Arab Tourism Organisation in the UAE. The office will help promote the tourism sector of the UAE regionally and internationally, and exchange information between potential investors. The UAE government is keen to host international organisations in the country and provide relevant benefits.

Addressing government affairs, The Cabinet also discussed a number of recommendations submitted by the Federal National Council on the Policies of the Ministry of Economy to boost the national economy and another one on protecting workers in agriculture and fishing. In addition, the Cabinet reviewed the Fiscal Statement of Emirates Transport for the year ending 2014.

Relating to other organisational issues, the Cabinet also endorsed the reorganisation of the board of the Insurance Authority chaired by the Minister of Economy.

Cooperation

The Cabinet endorsed the commitments of the UAE towards the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organisation. The agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.

The Cabinet also ratified a number of international agreements to boost cooperation such as an agreement with Ethiopia on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Income Tax Evasion. A number of other agreements on air transport and services have been endorsed with Kuwait, Slovakia, Iceland and Eritrea.