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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis led to a surge in government debt and financing needs as many countries in the Middle East and Central Asia reacted swiftly to mitigate the pandemic’s impact. Although several of these countries successfully accessed international financial markets, domestic banks covered a significant share of emerging markets’ financing needs, further expanding their already significant exposure to the public sector. By contrast, most low-income countries (LICs) had a small response to the crisis because of financing and policy space constraints. Looking ahead, public gross financing needs in most emerging markets in the Middle East and Central Asia are expected to remain elevated in 2021–22, with downside risks in the event of tighter global financial conditions and/or if fiscal consolidation is delayed due to weaker-than-expected recovery. However, further reliance on domestic financing will reduce banks’ ability to support the private sector’s emergence from the crisis, thus prolonging the recovery. Credible medium-term fiscal and debt management strategies, together with policy actions to develop domestic capital markets and mitigate banks’ overexposure to the sovereign would reduce financing risks, address the elevated debt burdens, and entrench financial stability.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper presents Jordan’s 2020 Article IV Consultation and Request for an Extended Arrangement Under the Extended Fund Facility (ECF). Jordan’s IMF-supported economic reform program is anchored on structural reforms designed to spur growth by creating jobs—especially for women and young people—and reduce poverty. The Jordanian economy has continued facing significant challenges. Macroeconomic stability and external buffers have been preserved, but fiscal vulnerabilities remain. Structural reforms and continued fiscal consolidation efforts are critical to lift growth, reduce unemployment and bring debt on a downward path. Continued support from donors, particularly through concessional loans and budget grants, will be critical to help Jordan cope with humanitarian and economic needs. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak poses significant risks to the program implementation. The authorities have implemented measures to help contain the impact of the pandemic; however, adjustments to the program modalities might be necessary considering the rapidly changing circumstances. Donor support through budget grants and concessional financing will be critical to help Jordan cope with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and the Syrian refugee crisis and to support program objectives.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The pandemic aggravated Tunisia’s long-standing vulnerabilities stemming from persistent fiscal and external imbalances, rising debt, and contingent liabilities from inefficient state-owned enterprises. The crisis is expected to induce the largest contraction in real GDP since independence. The authorities’ targeted response together with higher outlays on wages widened the fiscal deficit. A second Covid-19 wave is underway. The authorities are securing 500,000 doses to start a first campaign of vaccinations in February and are aiming to secure more doses to vaccinate half of the population starting in April–May. Staff expects GDP growth to rebound modestly in 2021, but it could take years before activity returns to pre-crisis levels, especially if large imbalances were not addressed and key reforms delayed. Downside risks dominate and recent protests highlight the level of social tensions, aggravated by Covid-19 restrictions, and particularly among the youth.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The concomitant Covid-19 pandemic and oil price shock in 2020 have taken a heavy toll on the Algerian economy and the population. The authorities’ response helped mitigate the social and economic impact of the crisis. Nevertheless, the crisis exacerbated the Algerian economy’s vulnerabilities, making even more urgent the need for a new, more inclusive and sustainable, growth model. A recovery is underway in 2021, but the outlook remains challenging. While the recent rebound in hydrocarbon prices should buoy the recovery and ease immediate financing constraints, addressing long-standing structural challenges will help to realize Algeria’s vast growth potential for the benefit of its population.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
After five years of civil conflict, the warring parties came to a peace agreement in September 2018. Until the COVID-19 crisis broke out, improved political stability and an uptick in international oil prices led to significant progress, with a rebound in economic growth, a decline in inflation, and a stabilization of the exchange rate. The COVID-19 pandemic is severely disrupting South Sudan’s economy, leading to a sharp decline in projected growth (-3.6 percent in FY20/21, about 10 percentage points below the pre-pandemic baseline) and a contraction of oil export proceeds—the main source of exports and fiscal revenue—which has given rise to urgent balance of payments needs and opened a large fiscal financing gap.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper highlights Pakistan’s Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). With the near-term outlook deteriorating sharply, the authorities have swiftly put in place measures to contain the impact of the shock and support economic activity. Crucially, health spending has been increased and social support strengthened. While uncertainty remains high, the near-term economic impact of coronavirus disease 2019 is expected to be significant, giving rise to large fiscal and external financing needs. The IMF support will help to provide a backstop against the decline in international reserves and provide financing to the budget for targeted and temporary spending increases aimed at containing the pandemic and mitigating its economic impact. In response to the crisis, the government of Pakistan has taken swift action to halt the community spread of the virus and introduced an economic stimulus package aimed at accommodating the spending needed to tackle the health emergency and supporting economic activity.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper states Costa Rica’s Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has severely impacted Costa Rica with its large exposure to trade, tourism, and foreign direct investment. The global economic slowdown and the necessary containment measures have impacted growth and fiscal accounts and created an urgent balance of payments need. The IMF’s emergency financing under the RFI is expected to help support urgently needed public health and social spending measures, while addressing the balance of payments need. It will also catalyze support from other multilateral agencies, which will be critical to addressing the remaining financing needs. The authorities have taken timely, well-targeted measures to mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic. They introduced extensive containment measures, which have helped flatten the infection curve. In order to mitigate the economic and social impact of the crisis, they adopted a temporary moratorium on tax payments, social transfers to protect the most vulnerable, and monetary and regulatory measures to ease credit and liquidity conditions.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The concomitant Covid-19 pandemic and oil price shock in 2020 have taken a heavy toll on the Algerian economy and the population. The authorities’ response helped mitigate the social and economic impact of the crisis. Nevertheless, the crisis exacerbated the Algerian economy’s vulnerabilities, making even more urgent the need for a new, more inclusive and sustainable, growth model. A recovery is underway in 2021, but the outlook remains challenging. While the recent rebound in hydrocarbon prices should buoy the recovery and ease immediate financing constraints, addressing long-standing structural challenges will help to realize Algeria’s vast growth potential for the benefit of its population.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Sultan Haitham ascended to the throne in January 2020 and has committed to implementing strong fiscal and structural reforms to address longstanding vulnerabilities. In addition to persistent fiscal deficits arising from incomplete adjustment to lower oil prices since 2015, Oman faced twin shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic and a collapse in oil prices in 2020 that amplified fiscal and external vulnerabilities. The authorities moved rapidly to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections and provided broad-based policy measures to limit its impact on the economy. In addition, frontloaded fiscal consolidation has been implemented in the 2021 budget as part of the authorities’ Medium-Term Fiscal Plan (MTFP) which aims to eliminate the fiscal deficit over the medium term. Banks have high capital buffers and liquidity, but credit risk is a concern going forward. Structural reforms have been accelerated under Oman Vision 2040 to boost non-oil private sector growth and facilitate job creation.