The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) growth projections for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2020 reached -4.1%, slightly better than the global average of -4.4%.
More troubling, however, is the fund’s projections for 2021, which will see the region worse off compared to the global average projections.
The warning came as part of IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s remarks at a virtual press conference, on Wednesday, during the IMF and World Bank Group’s annual meetings.
“We project a 3% growth for the region, whereas for the world as a whole, we project 5.2%,” Georgieva said, “This means that it is very important for countries to focus support where it would make the biggest difference in protecting firms, and protecting people.”
She added that, it is imperative for the rest of the world and for international partners to do the right thing by stepping up in the same way as the IMF has done. The IMF chief noted that the fund has provided $15bn worth of support for countries across the MENA region during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We are geared to respond to further calls of support,” Georgieva said, ”There are also the most vulnerable countries, such as Yemen, which have also benefited from debt relief from the fund, so they don’t have to serve obligations to us while they are in this very dire situation.”
She added, “Hopefully we would see acceleration of reforms that have started in the region to give that one and only viable exit, which is that not only do we exit on the healthy side, but we come out more vibrant, and with more dynamic and competitive economies.”
However, the case in Egypt is different, as the IMF noted in its “World Economic Outlook” report, released on Tuesday. The report has raised its growth projection for the Egyptian economy to 2.8% in the current fiscal year (FY), instead of the 2% in its report issued last May.