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IMF ready to lend $35 billion to needy Arab countries

DEAUVILLE, May 26, 2011 (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund on Thursday said it was prepared to lend about $35 billion to oil importing countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.
But that was a small part of the more than $300 billion the region could require over the next two years, even before reforms, it said.
The IMF said the lending would be part of its pledge in April to help member countries from the MENA region transition to democratic governments after an Arab Spring of unrest overthrew strongmen in Tunisia and Egypt.
The estimate came in an IMF report to the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized countries as a two-day summit got under way in the French seaside resort of Deauville.
“Should MENA oil importers request financing relative to their membership quotas as in recent Fund-supported programs, an overall amount of about US$35 billion could be made available,” the Washington-based institution said.
According to its calculations, “in the current baseline scenario — that does not yet include the reform agendas that countries would develop — the external financing needs of the region’s oil importers is projected to exceed $160 billion during 2011-13, and their fiscal financing needs are about $150 billion.”
The report to the G8 industrial powers — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — attempts to draw economic lessons from the political unrest that has shaken the Arab world since the beginning of the year.
“Social and political stability will only be assured if the region creates 50-75 million jobs over the next decade for the people joining the labor force and to reduce unemployment, and if the economic model is seen as fair and inclusive,” the 187-nation Fund said.
“Incremental changes in economic management will not deliver this outcome. A substantial increase in the pace of economic growth is needed, which calls for policies that support an enabling environment for the private sector.”

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