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International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This paper analyzes that although demands for political transformation commanded the world’s attention, those calls were largely motivated by unresolved socioeconomic issues. Demonstrators in the streets of Cairo and Tunis demanding bread, dignity, and social justice expressed widely held aspirations for basic economic rights, along with greater prosperity and equity. Almost seven years later, notable progress has been achieved in terms of public finance reforms. However, these reforms still have a long way to go to reduce disparities in the distribution of wealth within most countries of the region or narrow the development gaps between them. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa now face a stark choice between short-term retrenchment and resolute pursuit of the long-term reforms needed to secure their future economic prosperity. Forsaking important economic adjustments needed to strengthen inclusive growth and modernize the state and private sectors would set the region back, possibly for decades.
Mr. Andrea Gamba
Jordan’s initiatives to reduce its energy dependency could have substantial macroeconomic implications, but will crucially depend on the level of international oil prices in the next decade. Significant uncertainties remain regarding the feasibility of the initiatives and their potential fiscal costs, including from contingent liabilities, could be very large. Given the lead time required for such major investments, work should start now on: (i) conducting comprehensive cost-benefits analysis of these projects; (ii) addressing the challenges arising from the taxation of natural resources; and (iii) designing a fiscal framework to anchor fiscal policies if revenue from these energy projects materializes.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

IBRAHIM SAIF, former energy and mineral resources minister of Jordan, has been a vocal advocate for energy subsidy reform and for weaning his country off external sources of energy. In 2015, Saif helped craft Jordan’s Vision 2025, a 10-year blueprint for economic and social development that calls for raising the proportion of energy consumption met from local resources and increasing the share of renewables. Saif, who joined the Jordanian government at the tail end of the country’s massive energy subsidy reform, predicts that Jordan will be generating 20 percent of its energy through renewable sources by 2025.

Franklin M. Fisher and Hossein Askari

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.