World Bank approves $1 bln for Egypt fiscal balances, energy reforms

World Bank has approved a $1 billion loan to Egypt to improve its fiscal balances and support reforms in energy subsidies, the bank said in a Middle East and North Africa release on Monday.

Economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa region is projected to remain at 2.9 percent in 2016, with lower-than-average growth at 2.2 percent in the GCC countries, the bank said. In Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia, the economic growth is projected to remain lower-than-average at 1.8 percent, and higher-than-average growth in the region’s developing countries at 4.4 percent.

Growth in 2017 is projected to rise to 4.2 percent, assuming in large part that oil production increases in Libya and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Less than 3 percent of the population live in extreme poverty, but vulnerability is high because 53 percent of the population live on $4.00 a day or less.

“The Middle East and North Africa region continues to be in transition. Violence continues in Iraq, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen; and Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon are home to millions of forcibly displaced people.” World Bank added in its release.

“The Arab Republic of Egypt and Tunisia are consolidating their political environments; Jordan and Morocco are also undertaking governance and economic reforms; and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, while stable, are challenged by low oil prices and are initiating reforms to diversify their economies. The situation in the West Bank and Gaza remains largely unchanged, with occasional outbreaks of violence.”

The World Bank said it also approved $5.2 billion for the region for 15 projects this fiscal year, including $5.2 billion in IBRD loans and $31 million in IDA commitments. It also committed $53 million in special financing for five projects in the West Bank and Gaza.