Qatar’s Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics has cut its real GDP growth forecast to 7.3% in 2015 and 6.6% in 2016 due to lower oil prices, it said in its latest Qatar Economic Outlook (QEO) 2015-17 released earlier this month. This compares with previous forecasts in December 2014 of 7.7% and 7.5% respectively. The latest forecasts are broadly in line with the IMF’s latest forecasts of 7.1% for 2015 and 6.5% for 2016 contained in the latest update to the fund’s MENA Regional Economic Outlook, released last month.

If spending is kept at currently-planned levels then in light of reduced oil and gas revenue, Qatar could post a fiscal deficit of 4.9% and 3.7% of nominal GDP in 2016 and 2017 respectively if lower oil prices persist, it added. For 2015 the latest QEO predicts a fiscal surplus of 1.4%, well down on the 8.7% surplus forecast in the previous QEO Update released in December 2014, which forecast a 4.7% surplus for 2016. “The margin of uncertainty around these estimates is large” given that they are dependent on oil price fluctuations, the latest QEO notes. (CONTINUED - 762 WORDS)