IMF: Middle East Gains Breathing Space; Some Threats Remain




21 Apr 2017


Washington, DC, United States

The International Monetary Fund discussed regional economic issues in the Middle East and Central Asia on Friday. While the outlook for the region is better, the IMF warned there are lingering risks.

Jihad Azour, the director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, weighed in with his assessment of Egypt’s reform efforts.

WASHINGTON – April 21, 2017
1. Wide IMF briefing of Middle East and Central Asia Department
2. Mid reporters in briefing
3. SOUNDBITE: (English) Jihad Azour, Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, IMF “One of the main issues that we are focusing on after the first wave of reforms they put into use under the program that brought, as you know, very strong confidence back into the Egyptian economy, and that was translated into strong capital inflows and have stabilized the economic situation. Now, the main focus is on how to bring inflation down. Bringing inflation down is priority, not only for monetary policy management, but also for economic and social issues.”
4. Close reporter asking question
5. SOUNDBITE: (English) Jihad Azour, Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, IMF “Refugee pressures have social and economic impact on Jordan. The IMF supports Jordan’s reforms that protect the vulnerable. The issue of refugees has overburdened not only the human part but also the economic aspect and we are facing challenges because of that because we -- managing the economy is very difficult. No doubt, Jordan is also suffering due to inability to benefit from the trade with neighboring countries such as Iraq and other countries. The program that was put in cooperation with the government of Jordan is to support the program of the government. There are reforms that have to do with the budget and the first factor was expanding the revenue base because the main problem suffered by Jordan and other countries in the region is that there is focus, there is vulnerabilities in the revenues. We need to expand the base of revenues and the best way is through two factors: the first one is gradually eliminating or what we call the special cases and exceptions that are embedded in the tax system and to broaden the tax base and increase the number of tax payers. This would help us buy time to lessen the burden on limited income people and the Fund did not put any suggestion. On the contrary, anything that has to be lifting or removing subsidy on food such as bread and others.”
6. Wide reporters
7. Wide end of briefing
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  • Wafa Amr
    Senior Communications Officer
    United States
    1 202-677-8079