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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

A year into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the race between vaccine and virus entered a new phase in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the path to recovery in 2021 is expected to be long and divergent. The outlook will vary significantly across countries, depending on the pandemic’s path, vaccine rollouts, underlying fragilities, exposure to tourism and contact-intensive sectors, and policy space and actions. 2021 will be the year of policies that continue saving lives and livelihoods and promote recovery, while balancing the need for debt sustainability and financial resilience. At the same time, policymakers must not lose sight of the transformational challenges to build forward better and accelerate the creation of more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and green economies. Regional and international cooperation will be key complements to strong domestic policies.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia region have been hit by two large and reinforcing shocks, resulting in significantly weaker growth projections in 2020. In addition to the devastating toll on human health, the COVID-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices are causing economic turmoil in the region, with fragile and conflict affected states particularlyhard-hit given already large humanitarian and refugee challenges and weak health infrastructures. The immediate priority for policies is to save lives with needed health spending, regardless of fiscal space, while preserving engines of growth with targeted support to households and hard-hit sectors. In this context, the IMF has been providing emergency assistance to help countries in the region during these challenging times. Further ahead, economic recoveries should be supported with broad fiscal and monetary measures where policy space is available, and by seeking external assistance where space is limited.

Mr. Koshy Mathai, Mr. Christoph Duenwald, Ms. Anastasia Guscina, Rayah Al-Farah, Mr. Hatim Bukhari, Mr. Atif Chaudry, Moataz El-Said, Fozan Fareed, Mrs. Kerstin Gerling, Nghia-Piotr Le, Mr. Franto Ricka, Mr. Cesar Serra, Tetyana Sydorenko, Mr. Sébastien Walker, and Mr. Mohammed Zaher
This paper examines the role of social spending in improving socioeconomic outcomes in the Middle East and Central Asia. In particular, it addresses the following questions: (1) how large is social spending across the region? (2) how do countries in the region fare on socioeconomic outcomes? (3) how important is social spending as a determinant of these outcomes? and (4) how efficient is social spending in the region?
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
Finance & Development, September 2019
Mr. Nicolas R Blancher, Maximiliano Appendino, Aidyn Bibolov, Mr. Armand Fouejieu, Mr. Jiawei Li, Anta Ndoye, Alexandra Panagiotakopoulou, Wei Shi, and Tetyana Sydorenko
The importance of financial inclusion is increasingly recognized by policymakers around the world. Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) financial inclusion, in particular, is at the core of the economic diversification and growth challenges many countries are facing. In the Middle East and Central Asia (MENAP and CCA) regions, SMEs represent an important share of firms, but the regions lag most others in terms of SME access to financing.