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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Iraq's socio-economic fragilities have been severely aggravated by the pandemic and the sharp decline in oil revenues, which arrived on the heels of widespread social unrest and political instability. The health system’s limited capacity has been strained, while the fiscal position has become untenable as oil revenues declined sharply to a level that barely covers the government’s large wage and pension bills. Although the number of new infections declined recently, Iraq registered the second-highest COVID-related fatalities in the region, and the fiscal response to the pandemic has been one of the lowest. A six-month political paralysis preceding the formation of the government in May 2020 and plans to hold early parliamentary elections in mid-2021 have been weighing on political support for reforms. Risks of social unrest, geopolitical tensions, and insecurity remain elevated.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper discusses Jordan’s Second Review under the Extended Arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility, Requests for a Waiver of Nonobservance of Performance Criterion, an extension of the arrangement, and rephasing of access. Discussions highlight that the Jordanian authorities have preserved macroeconomic stability, maintain a prudent monetary policy, and ensured a sound financial system. Jordan faces a challenging environment—including low economic growth, high unemployment, and elevated public debt—underscoring the importance of swiftly implementing policies and reforms to bring public debt on a downward path, boost investment and productivity, and enhance inclusive growth. The enactment of long needed growth-enhancing reforms is encouraging, including the secured transactions law, the bankruptcy law, and the business-inspections law. The international community has strongly supported the new government’s commitment to maintain the reform momentum, strengthen growth, and reduce public debt. The London Initiative in February 2019 has helped unlock essential budget grants and concessional financing to support the authorities’ reform program.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses the need to reduce Iraq’s current expenditure to create fiscal space for inclusive growth. Iraq’s public spending is high in international comparison and is driven by its two largest components: compensation of public employees and social transfers. The reform of social welfare cash transfer programs promises to improve their large targeting errors and result in greater capacity to address poverty at a lower fiscal cost. The government also needs to introduce further amendments to the draft pension bill and critically review programs benefiting victims of war and political persecution to improve their targeting and limit their potential for abuse and a negative impact on the labor supply.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that Jordan has made significant progress since the 2014 Article IV Consultation but pressing challenges remain. The gradual pick-up in growth from 2010 to 2014 ended in 2015, with real GDP growth decelerating from 2.4 percent in 2015 to 2 percent in 2016. Labor market conditions have remained challenging, particularly for youth and women, with the unemployment rate increasing to 15.8 percent in the second half of 2016. Despite considerable progress and recent improvements, the outlook remains challenging. Real GDP growth is projected to reach 2.3 percent in 2017, while inflation is expected to stabilize at about 2.5 percent by year-end.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper discusses the Syrian Refugee Crisis (SRC) and conflicts in Syria and Iraq have weighed on investor sentiment, tourism, and exports but the influx of Syrians is likely to have increased aggregate demand. Labor market conditions deteriorated after the massive influx of refugees and nontradable prices accelerated. The balance of payment suffered pressures on the non-oil current account, owing to lower exports of goods and services and higher imports. The SRC has increased the direct fiscal costs persistently by above one percent of GDP, which could double after counting for quality and capital deterioration. The negative impact is decreasing as the influx of Syrian refugees slowed and the stock pushed up aggregate demand. The influx of more than 10 percent of Jordan’s original population may have certainly increased consumption, particularly, over time as the incomers settled and the likelihood of returning to their home country diminishes. Unemployment grew the most in governorates that host most of the refugees.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper discusses Iraq’s First and Second Reviews of the Staff-Monitored Program (SMP) and Request for a Three-Year Stand-By Arrangement. The oil price decline has resulted in a massive reduction in Iraq’s budget revenue, pushing the fiscal deficit to an unsustainable level. The authorities are responding to the crisis with a mix of necessary fiscal adjustment and financing, maintaining their commitment to the exchange rate peg. The authorities started an SMP in November 2015 to establish a track record of policy credibility and pave the way to a possible IMF financing arrangement. Their performance under the SMP has been broadly satisfactory.
International Monetary Fund
countries face similar challenges to create jobs and foster more inclusive growth. The current environment of likely durable low oil prices has exacerbated these challenges. The non-oil private sector remains relatively small and, consequently, has been only a limited source of growth and employment. Because oil is an exhaustible resource, new sectors need to be developed so they can take over as the oil and gas industry dwindles. Over-reliance on oil also exacerbates macroeconomic volatility. Greater economic diversification would unlock job-creating growth, increase resilience to oil price volatility and improve prospects for future generations. Macro-economic stability and supportive regulatory and institutional frameworks are key prerequisites for economic diversification...
Mario Mansour, Ms. Pritha Mitra, Mr. Carlo A Sdralevich, and Mr. Andrew Jewell
La quête d'égalité et d'équité — et ce que peuvent faire les gouvernements pour la satisfaire — est au cœur du débat économique et social dans le monde entier. Dans la région du Moyen-Orient et de l'Afrique du Nord (MOAN), ce thème revêt une signification particulière, mais n'a pas été suffisamment traité. Cette note de réflexion étudie le rôle que peuvent jouer les régimes fiscaux, interfaces essentielles entre les États et leurs citoyens, pour répondre aux exigences de plus grande équité économique dans les pays de la région MOAN. Elle conclut que dans les pays qui ont des régimes fiscaux bien établis ne reposant pas sur les hydrocarbures (principalement des pays importateurs de pétrole), les réformes devraient viser en priorité à simplifier la structure de la fiscalité et à introduire une plus grande progressivité de l'impôt sur le revenu, à élargir la base d'imposition, et à améliorer la conception et l'application des taxes foncières. L'administration fiscale devrait être plus efficace et conviviale. La simplification des régimes fiscaux réduirait le risque de traitement arbitraire. Les pays de la région MOAN dont les recettes fiscales hors hydrocarbures sont moins développées pourraient commencer par introduire une TVA et un impôt sur le revenu des sociétés à faible taux, instaurer des taxes foncières et des droits d'accises, et renforcer leurs capacités administratives et leur expertise fiscale, tout en établissant des plans pour l'introduction d'un impôt sur le revenu des personnes physiques. Dans toute la région, la réussite de ces réformes nécessitera d'assurer une communication efficace et transparente, et d'entretenir un dialogue constructif entre l'État et les citoyens.
Mario Mansour, Ms. Pritha Mitra, Mr. Carlo A Sdralevich, and Mr. Andrew Jewell
Fairness – and what governments can do about it – is at the forefront of economic and social debate all over the world. In MENA, this has been at the core of recent political transitions but has not been adequately addressed. This SDN explores how tax systems – a critical interface between the state and citizens – can play a role in meeting demands for greater economic fairness in MENA countries. The SDN finds that for countries with well-established non-hydrocarbon tax systems (mostly oil importers) reforms should focus on simplifying tax structures and introducing more progressivity of personal income taxes, broadening tax bases, and better designing and enforcing property taxes. Tax administration should be more efficient and user-friendly while simplifying tax regimes will reduce the scope for arbitrary implementation. MENA countries with less established non-hydrocarbon revenue systems can begin with a “starter pack” that includes introduction of low-rate value-added and corporate income taxes, excises, and property taxes while building up administrative capacity and taxation expertise together with plans for introducing a personal income tax. Across the region, effective communication, transparency, and constructive dialogue between the State and citizens are critical to the success of reforms.
Mario Mansour, Ms. Pritha Mitra, Mr. Carlo A Sdralevich, and Mr. Andrew Jewell
Fairness – and what governments can do about it – is at the forefront of economic and social debate all over the world. In MENA, this has been at the core of recent political transitions but has not been adequately addressed. This SDN explores how tax systems – a critical interface between the state and citizens – can play a role in meeting demands for greater economic fairness in MENA countries. The SDN finds that for countries with well-established non-hydrocarbon tax systems (mostly oil importers) reforms should focus on simplifying tax structures and introducing more progressivity of personal income taxes, broadening tax bases, and better designing and enforcing property taxes. Tax administration should be more efficient and user-friendly while simplifying tax regimes will reduce the scope for arbitrary implementation. MENA countries with less established non-hydrocarbon revenue systems can begin with a “starter pack” that includes introduction of low-rate value-added and corporate income taxes, excises, and property taxes while building up administrative capacity and taxation expertise together with plans for introducing a personal income tax. Across the region, effective communication, transparency, and constructive dialogue between the State and citizens are critical to the success of reforms.