Qatar is spending almost $500 million (about N157.2 billion) a week on major infrastructure projects as it prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, its finance minister has said.
The minister, Ali al-Emadi, expected spending to continue at that level for three to four years as new stadiums, motorways, rail links and hospitals are built.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more than $200 billion (about N63 trillion) will be spent in total by the gas-rich emirate.
But Emadi denied that the plans would make the 2022 tournament the most expensive World Cup yet.
The 2014 edition in Brazil is reported to have cost $11 billion (about N5.5 trillion) to host.
Russia has meanwhile increased government spending on the 2018 event by $321 million to $10.7 billion (about N5.35 trillion).
Brazil struggled to get many of its stadiums ready, but Emadi said in Doha that Qatar had already awarded 90 per cent of the contracts for 2022 projects.
He said two-thirds would be delivered within the next 24 months.
“We are giving ourselves a good chance to deliver things on time,’’ he added. “We don’t want to be in a place where we start painting when people are coming to the country.’’
In order to achieve this, contractors have brought in hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, mainly from South Asian nations.
However, human rights groups have said the workers have been exploited and forced to work under dangerous conditions.
Qatar’s government has denied the workers are exploited and in December it implemented reforms designed to improve the rights of the migrant workers.
Emadi said the money for the World Cup projects had been protected from cuts to the national budget caused by low oil and gas prices.
Last year, Qatar had an estimated budget deficit of more than $12.8bn, and the 2017 budget has a projected deficit of $7.8bn.
The pressure on the state finances is now easing because of higher oil prices, and Emadi said Qatar might not need to issue international bonds this year.(NAN)