Azerbaijan's budget posts €580mn surplus in Jan-Mar

By bne IntelliNews April 6, 2016

The Azerbaijani state budget posted a surplus of AZN1bn (€580mn) in January-March, according to the country's Finance Ministry. Specifically, revenues to the state budget amounted to AZN3.68bn (€2.13bn), while expenditure was AZN2.62 (€1.52bn), 26.7% lower than anticipated.

Low oil prices prompted authorities in Baku to revise the 2016 budget in January to set a baseline oil price of $25 per barrel, down from $50 a barrel when the budget was voted in October. Oil and gas revenues used to contribute more than two thirds of budget revenues, but their contribution dropped to under 50% in Jan-March. Observers feared that Azerbaijan might need to borrow money internationally to balance its budget in 2016.

Tax collection increased in the reporting period, with the Tax Ministry transferring 1.4% more taxes than forecast to the budget or AZN1.5bn (€870mn). The customs authority also contributed AZN416.9mn (€241mn) to the budget, with the remainder resulting from oil and gas exports.

Over half of budget expenditure was social spending on pensions, social benefits and healthcare, the ministry reported.

The statistics published by Azerbaijani state institutions are sometimes unreliable, as ratings agency Fitch noted in February that the official inflation rate likely underestimated the increase in prices and Baku reported a 1.1% GDP growth rate in 2015 despite a 50% depreciation of the national currency and a 7.8% y/y contraction in nominal GDP.

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