Abu Dhabi: The UAE Cabinet on Sunday approved Dh248 billion for the five-year draft federal budget for 2017-2021, with Dh48.7 billion earmarked for 2017.

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

Shaikh Mohammad asserted that the federal government, led by the UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, continues to achieve the happiness of its people and to ensure security and a decent life for them.

'"Utilising the financial resources to achieve the highest degree of prosperity and welfare of the citizens and residents is a priority, underlining education, health and community welfare as key pillars for the development of the society,'' said Shaikh Mohammad. 

At the meeting, the Cabinet adopted the general federal budget for 2017- 2021, with total of Dh248 billion over five years, and a budget of Dh48.7 billion for 2017, in addition to the revenues of independent entities and financial investments.

Shaikh Mohammad said: "We aim to provide all the means and capabilities to meet the requirements of the future Government vision, and make it one of the best governments in the world in various sectors, through the optimal use of resources to enhancing the services provided to citizens and residents."

The UAE is the first Arab country to prepare a periodic budget for five years, in line with the directives of Shaikh Mohammad to prepare a proposal budget with plans for every five years to improve the level of social services, and upgrade the smart services of the government. This also aims at increasing customer satisfaction about the federal government's efforts to enhance the welfare, prosperity, happiness and security of community members.

Sectors that are directly related with social services received the largest portion of 2017 budget with more than half allocated for these sectors, valued at Dh25.2 billion including general and higher education sector at 20.5 per cent (Dh10.2 billion); health care and protection of society at 8.6 per cent, (Dh4.2 billion); pensions at 8.2 per cent, (Dh4 billion), community development at 6.6 percent, (Dh3.2 billion ), housing at 3.3 percent (Dh1.6 billion).

The budget also allocates 42 per cent for government affairs sector, valued at Dh20.7 billion, to manage its financial affairs, provide the finest services to citizens, and achieve the vision of leadership to positioning the UAE in the leadership position in assuring the security and safety of its citizens and residents. This includes special programs that support the nation's relationships regionally and globally, and the development of the judiciary and providing distinctive judicial services

Within the budget, Dh3.3 billion was assigned to federal projects, of which Dh891 million are allocated for projects of the federal ministries, and Dh771 million for development power and water projects in the country to be implemented by the Federal Authority for Electricity and Water.

An amount of Dh1.4 billion goes for projects under the Shaikh Zayed Housing Program, and Dh13.5 million for the projects of the Ministry of Education. In addition to that, Dh215 Million were allocated to establish police and civil defense centers, and headquarters of naturalisation and residence, and scientific laboratories. 

DH 2 billion has been set aside to supporting government innovation, through the establishment of the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation. It will provide financing solutions for innovators and incubation support to turn their ideas into projects that will support the national strategy for innovation and achieving the goals of Vision 2021.

On another note, the Cabinet adopted the final accounts of the Emirates Transport and Al Etihad Credit Bureau for the year 2015 along with the adoption of the funding differences for federal universities and colleges for the first and second semesters for the academic year 2015-2016.

In international relations, the Cabinet agreed and endorsed a number of international conventions, including the ratification of two agreements between the Government and the Principality of Liechtenstein, and the Slovak Republic on double taxation avoidance and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and capital. It also endorsed three agreements on air services in-between and beyond the regions with Republic of Uganda, the Republic of Slovakia, and the government of Antigua and Barbuda.

The conventions endorsed included the signing of an agreement between the UAE Space Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United Space to participate in the International Training Program for Nasa.