IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook report released

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IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook report released

IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook report released

The Middle East and North Africa region continues to experience lackluster growth for the fourth year in a row, the IMF said in its latest regional assessment. The IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook, released on October 27, projects growth to increase slightly to 2.6 percent this year. Growth could pick up in 2015 if security conditions improve.
“Intensifying security problems, including from the deepening conflicts in Iraq and Syria, pose downside risks to the outlook. The regional economic impact has been limited so far, but an estimated 11 million of displaced persons are already putting pressure on budgets, labor markets, and social cohesion in neighboring countries,” said IMF Middle East Department Director, Masood Ahmed who unveiled the report in Dubai in collaboration with the Dubai Economic Council (DEC) and the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC).
“The region needs sustained, stronger and more inclusive growth to markedly reduce unemployment a critical issue facing nearly all countries in the region,” Ahmed added.
Oil-exporters need a new growth model The IMF expects overall growth of the region’s oil exporters to remain subdued at 2.5 percent this year owing to the deterioration of security conditions, mainly in Iraq and Libya. Growth could pick up next year, but a possible further deterioration in security conditions in Iraq, Libya, or Yemen, could deepen economic disruptions and derail the projected recovery.
The IMF cautioned that, on current fiscal policies, oil exporters’ fiscal surpluses are set to vanish by 2017 and noted that all countries outside the Gulf Cooperation Council and Bahrain are running fiscal deficits already. The marked decline in oil prices by 20 percent over the last two months adds to fiscal risks.
“If oil prices stay at current lows for a prolonged period, oil exporters on aggregate could move from fiscal surplus to deficit already next year,” Ahmed told reporters. For countries that have buffers, it will be important to adjust their fiscal positions gradually to limit the drag on economic growth, he added.
Key reasons behind weakening fiscal and external balances are large energy subsidy and wage bills. These countries need to contain government spending to ensure fiscal sustainability and to bequeath future generations an equitable share of the resource wealth, says the report.
(Courtesy WAM)

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