International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with Lebanon highlights that Lebanon’s economic position continues to be very difficult, with very low growth, high public debt and large twin deficits. While financial stability has been maintained, deposit inflows, critical to finance the budget and external deficits, slowed down during the past year, reducing the authorities’ room for manoeuvre. The new government has taken some important policy steps to start the needed policy adjustment, which could help raise confidence among investors and donors. The highest priority is the implementation of a sustainable fiscal adjustment that will bend down the path of the public debt-to-gross domestic product ratio through a combination of revenue and expenditure measures. This needs to be complemented by structural reforms and concessionally financed investment to raise Lebanon’s growth potential and help external adjustment, as well as policies to build further buffers in Lebanon’s financial sector. Structural reforms should prioritize reforming the electricity sector, removing impediments to and lowering the cost of doing business, as well as improving governance and reducing corruption.
Mishel Ghassibe, Maximiliano Appendino, and Samir Elsadek Mahmoudi
This paper offers empirical evidence that greater financial inclusion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can promote higher economic growth and employment, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia regions. First, we show that countries with higher SME financial inclusion exhibit more effective monetary policy transmission and tax collection. Second, we find substantial employment and labor productivity growth gains at the firm level from access to credit, gains that are higher for SMEs. We also obtain evidence of a substantial positive impact on SME employment and labor productivity growth from improved credit bureau coverage and insolvency regimes. Finally, cross-country aggregate evidence confirms the employment and growth gains from SME financial inclusion, which appear larger in the Middle East and Central Asia than in other regions.
International Monetary Fund. Secretary's Department
Seven years after the onset of the global financial crisis, the world still has a way to go to secure a sustainable recovery marked by strong growth that supports rapid job creation and benefits all, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde says in her foreword to the institution’s Annual Report 2014—From Stabilization to Sustainable Growth, published today. The recovery is ongoing, but it is still too slow and fragile, subject to the vagaries of financial sentiment. Millions of people are still looking for work. The level of uncertainty might be diminishing, but it is certainly not disappearing.” Ms. Lagarde said that “throughout the crisis and in the recovery period, the IMF has been, and continues to be, an indispensible agent of economic cooperation” for its membership. The report covers the work of the IMF’s Executive Board and contains financial statements for the year May 1, 2013, to April 30, 2014. It describes the IMF’s support for its 188 member countries, with an emphasis on the core areas of IMF responsibility: assessing their economic and financial policies, providing financing where needed, and building capacity in key areas of economic policy.
In this paper we contribute to the empirical literature on growth in the MENA region by attempting to quantify the impact of the various constraints faced by local businesses highlighted by the World Bank’s Business Enterprise surveys. To the best of our knowledge this dataset has not been used in any empirical analysis looking at the main constraints on growth in the MENA region. Our empirical results suggest that the key direct constraints to growth in the MENA region are difficulties in access to finance, labor skill mismatches and shortages, and electricity constraints.
In this paper we estimate gravity models to see whether trade volumes of countries in the MENA region are significantly lower than what would be expected given their economic, cultural and geographical characteristics. Our empirical results show that the variables used in standard gravity models cannot explain a significant part of MENA's trade performance, particularly on exports. We then go on to 'augment' the standard gravity model with relevant variables from the World Bank's Business Enterprise surveys. Our results further show that these variables, and in particular transport constraints and inefficiencies in customs clearance processes, are important in explaining the MENA region's underperformance in trade.
This report reviews Lebanon’s performance under the program supported by emergency post-conflict assistance. The 2007 program is broadly on track. Despite a difficult political environment, all end-September targets were met, except for the monitorable action on raising gasoline excises. Fiscal revenues were stronger than expected. Owing to strong deposit inflows, the central bank accumulated international reserves at a faster pace than targeted. The end-December monitorable action on inviting expressions of interest to participate in the privatization of two mobile phone networks was effectively met in November.
This report on Lebanon’s Performance Under the Program Supported by Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance analyzes the economic situation and financial system. The economic situation continues to be overshadowed by the political stalemate and episodes of violence. The recent turbulence in international financial markets has not had a significant impact on Lebanon. It is important to restore promptly the revenue source, which constitutes a key measure in the authorities’ fiscal adjustment strategy. The ongoing work by the new cash management unit to establish a cash flow plan is encouraging.
This Report assesses the Observance of Standards and Codes on Fiscal Transparency for Lebanon. There appears to be insufficient public understanding of, or interest in, the critical need for sustained fiscal reforms. The government’s program of reform needs to be based on more analysis, including a clearly articulated vision of what the strengths and problems are. The successful implementation of medium-term objectives requires a revamping of the way the government plans, executes, and assumes responsibility for its actions, hence of all elements of budget preparation and execution.