Billions of dollars to be given by WB to Mena economies this year

The World Bank (WB) will give billions of dollars in loans to the Middle East and North Africa in 2019 to accelerate economic reforms underway in countries such as Jordan, Tun­isia and Egypt, WB regional vice-president said.

However, total funding is expected to decline slightly from the record $6.2 billion the bank invested in Mena in 2018, as some countries – most notably Tunisia – are approaching their maximum borrowing limit, The National reports.

“Some countries we have supported with loan financing over the past few years have nearly reached that ceiling, so we may not match the record package we distributed last year,” Ferid Belhaj, vice-president for the Middle East, told The National.

Last June, the bank approved a $500 million loan to shore up Tunisia’s budget – the latest in a series of funding packages to the country since 2011.

For such countries, the bank will continue to provide policy development and other advisory services to help them implement the reforms needed to expand their private sectors and boost economic growth, Mr Belhaj said. Funding decisions for other countries will be made over the coming months.

The North African country’s GDP in the year ending last June expanded 5.4 per cent, up from 4.2 per cent in the year-earlier period, making Egypt one of the fastest growing economies in Mena. The government is targeting growth of up to 8 per cent for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

“Egypt is possibly the brightest spot in the region and clearly what they’re doing is working, so we may help further,” Mr Belhaj said.


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