Experts confused by Dubai's transparency
The Financial Times:
An understated press conference to announce details of the 2009 budget should have been a run-of-the-mill event. But in the context of Dubai’s infamously opaque finances, Saturday’s statements were revolutionary.
The spate of figures suddenly falling out of a black hole at of the finance department left economists confused.
“It’s more evidence of transparency but the figures don’t leave us all that wiser in terms of actual spending and debt obligations,” said one economist. “There isn’t much to compare it to.”
Over the past few months, the government’s statistics centre has been revising Dubai’s GDP upwards with the help of international consultants. The previous system, officials argued, was outmoded and unrepresentative of the emirate’s true economic output.
The new methodology, to be unveiled by the statistics centre this year, puts 2007 GDP at almost $73bn, officials said – well above the last official figure of about $50bn for 2006. The Dubai government has said its overall debt obligations amount to $80bn.
The revision, which at a stroke helps reduce the emirate’s debt-to-GDP ratio, was balanced by Mr Shaikh’s acceptance that the government will have to tame its previous GDP growth targets of 11 per cent a year to 2015 down to a more modest 4 to 6 per cent.