Support the People, Not Energy in the Middle East and North Africa

Masood AhmedBy Masood Ahmed

(Versions in عربي, 中文, Français, 日本語Русский, and Español)

Of all the regions in the world, the Middle East and North Africa region stands out as the one that relies the most on generalized energy subsidies. In energy-rich countries, governments provide subsidies to their populations as a way of sharing the natural resource wealth. In the region’s energy-importing countries, governments use subsidies to offer people some relief from high commodity prices, especially since social safety nets are often weak.

The question is: does this well-intended social protection policy represent the most efficient way to channel aid to the most vulnerable? The answer is no!

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Moving Beyond Crisis Management in the West Bank and Gaza

By Oussama Kanaan, Udo Kock, and Mariusz Sumlinski

(Versions in  عربي)

It was an early spring morning in East Jerusalem in 2011, and we were wrapping up our two-week mission with a presentation to donor representatives on the Palestinian economy’s health. Our audience appeared encouraged by our assessment of performance over the previous three years (2008–10): the economy had been recovering strongly, supported by generous aid and an easing of Israeli restrictions on movement and trade.

And the Palestinian Authority had made impressive progress in institution-building, which alongside prudent fiscal management, had enhanced public-sector efficiency, reduced wasteful expenditure, and enabled a reduction in its recurrent budget deficit from US$1.7 billion in 2008 to US$1.1 billion in 2010.

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The Power of Cooperation

In an article in the new issue of Finance & Development magazine, President Bill Clinton shares his experience working with governments, business, and civil society as part of his Clinton Global Initiative. He says they are making the most progress in places where people have formed networks of creative cooperation where stakeholders come together to do things better, faster and cheaper than any could alone.

Middle East and North Africa Face Historic Crossroads

If there is one fact I think sums up the problems of the Middle East and North Africa, it is that the non-oil exports of the whole region, are $365 billion, about the same as the exports of Belgium, a country of 11 million people, compared with the 400 million people who make up the Arab world. This is a crucial indicator of the nature and size of the structural adjustment problem the Arab countries in transition face.

Tharman Sees “Greater Global Policy Resolve”

The world is now in a much better situation than six months ago when it comes to policy solutions, according to Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance , who is Chair of the IMF's policy-setting committee, the IMFC, speaking about the outcome of the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Tokyo.

Taking Stock: Public Finances Now Stronger in Many Countries

The slow global recovery is making fiscal adjustment more difficult around the world, but this doesn’t mean that little has been accomplished. In fact, significant progress in many countries has been made during the past two years in strengthening their fiscal accounts after the 2008–09 deterioration.

Global Economy: Some Bad News and Some Hope

The world economic recovery continues, but it has weakened further. In advanced countries, growth is now too low to make a substantial dent in unemployment. And in major emerging countries, growth that had been strong earlier has also decreased. Relative to the IMF's forecasts last April, our growth forecasts for 2013 have been revised down from 1.8% to 1.5% for advanced countries, and from 5.8% down to 5.6% for emerging and developing countries.The downward revisions are widespread.

Tokyo links — IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings

The 2012 annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank are being held this year in Tokyo at a crucial time for the world economy. Key reports out this week are the closely watched World Economic Outlook, the Fiscal Monitor, and the Global Financial Stability Report.

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