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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe human, economic, and social impact on Mauritania. The economy is estimated to have contracted by about 2 percent in 2020 and the crisis generated large financing needs. The authorities responded swiftly to mitigate the impact of the pandemic while international partners provided grants, loans, and debt service suspension. This, compounded by higher commodity exports (iron ore and gold) and some delays in emergency spending, resulted in unexpected fiscal surpluses and an accumulation of international reserves, which may now be used to support the recovery in 2021–22. The outlook remains highly uncertain and dependent on volatile commodity markets, with sizable downside risks in case new waves of the pandemic spill over into Mauritania.
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.