Sheikh Mohammed Cabinet
One- third of the 2020 budget was approved for government sector while the rest of the budget was allotted to infrastructure, economic resources and living benefits. Image Credit: Twitter/HHShkMohd

Dubai: The UAE’s largest ever zero-deficit federal budget of Dh61 billion has been approved for the fiscal year 2020, with the lion’s share allocated for sectors concerned with serving Emiratis, including social development.

The UAE Cabinet on Tuesday approved the country’s 2020 budget, with 32.6 per cent of which endorsed for government affairs, 31 per cent for social development sector, 14 per cent for infrastructure and economic resources and 6.5 per cent for social benefits.

The federal budget was announced yesterday during a Cabinet meeting chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Held at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, the meeting was attended by Lieutenant General 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.

“2020 will be a new beginning for a decade of fresh development,” said Shaikh Mohammad, adding, “The federal budget is balanced and reflects our national priorities and is managed efficiently”.

While meeting with the first two Emirati astronauts, Hazzaa Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi, Shaikh Mohammad praised their achievement, being the first Emirati and Arab citizen to reach the International Space Station (ISS).

Sarah Bint Yousuf Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, Yousuf Al Shaibani, Director General of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), and Salem Al Marri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, were present.

The federal budget reflects the resilience of the national economy and the abundance and sustainability of its resources to finance economic and social development projects. It has been doubled more than 300 times since the first federal budget in 1971, and recorded a zero deficit for the third year in a row.

The 2020 budget, which achieves balance between expenses and revenues, focuses on ambitious plans and projects that foresee the future.

In details, the estimated allocations for social development and social benefits programs amounted to Dh26.7 billion, or 38 per cent of the total public budget, while Dh10.4 billion, or 14.8 per cent of the total budget will go for public, higher and university education programs.

Around Dh6.7 billion, or 9.5 per cent of the total public budget will be spent on public education programs and Dh3.7 billion, or 5.3 per cent will be dedicated to higher and university education.

A total of Dh4.9 billion, or 6.9 per cent will go for health care and community prevention sector, in a bid to provide the highest level of medical care services to citizens and achieve the vision of leadership to provide high quality services.

Some Dh3.5 billion or 5 per cent of the total budget will be allocated to social rights guarantee programs and activating community integration in the Ministry of Community Development, while Dh1.8 billion (2.5 per cent) will be dedicated to Shaikh Zayed Housing programme.

A total of Dh4.6 billion or 6.5 per cent will go for pensions, in accordance with the directives of the wise leadership to provide a decent life for civil and military retirees, while other services has been allocated Dh1.6 billion

The government affairs sector was allocated Dh23 billion, or 32.6 per cent of the total budget. A total of Dh9.9 billion (14 per cent) will go for infrastructure and economic resources while Dh21.9 billion or 31.1 per cent will go for social development programs.

Over Dh4.6 billion or 6.5 per cent of the budget will be spent on social benefits, while other federal expenses was allocated Dh7.8 billion or 11.1 per cent.

Space sector reviewed

On the sidelines of the meeting, Shaikh Mohammad reviewed a brief report on the UAE space sector, outlining what has been achieved in this sector since its establishment.

The UAE’s space sector is the largest in the region in terms of allocations, diversity and direct investment. The country’s space sector is dynamic, active, organised and being run as per clear plans.

The UAE currently owns and operates eight large and modern satellites specialised for communications and space surveillance in addition to two education satellites — Nayif-1 and MySat-1. Eight more modern educational and scientific satellites will be launched before 2021.

The UAE space investments exceed Dh22 billion, an annual growth of 9 per cent. The UAE has first Arab space agency and the first Arab-Islamic project to explore Mars (Hope Probe). The country also has UAE satellite operators — Yahsat, Thuraya and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

Yahsat has become one of the top 10 satellite companies in the world in terms of income. It launched in January 2018 the third satellite to cover South America and plans for the fourth satellite. The UAE also has four research centres/ Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, Sharjah Centre for Astronomy & Space Sciences, National Space Science and Technology Centre-Al Ain and Yahsat Space Lab in Masdar City.

In terms of human cadres, more than 1,500 employees from 50 companies are working in this sector. A total of 30 per cent of employees are Emiratis while 35 per cent of whom are women.

During the meeting, the Council of Ministers approved the setting up of an Education Support Fund, which aims to strengthen partnerships with the private sector and businessmen. It also aims to develop education and provide additional financial resources to support qualitative development programs in the education sector across all stages.

The Cabinet also approved a decision restructuring the UAE Council for Climate Change and another decision to reshuffle the Environment and the Standing Committee entrusted with the follow-up of the Universal Periodic Review, under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the membership of representatives of federal and concerned local government entities.

The Cabinet also approved the closing accounts of the Emirates Development Bank, Emirates General Transport and Services Corporation (ETC), Emirates Post Group and its subsidiaries for the fiscal year 2018.

In international relations, the Cabinet ratified a number of agreements, including the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework Agreement, the Supplementary Agreement to Headquarters Agreement between the UAE Government and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), as well as two agreements with Hong Kong. Senegal on the promotion and protection of investments