EconSource: Egypt’s Parliamentary Campaigns Lack Concrete Economic Policy

Few if any political parties or coalitions running in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, which will take place on Sunday, have provided a clear economic platform. Forty percent of the members of front runner For the Love of Egypt (FLE) list belong to liberal parties that support a free market economy. According to one candidate on the list, FLE is averse to an economic policy with “socialist leanings.” The Nour Party said in its campaign flyers that the party has a comprehensive developmental program that will ensure that state revenues will return to the treasury and improve the living conditions of the poor and middle classes. A leading figure on the Egypt Call list said that because he knows the list will not win a majority enabling it to form a government, it has decided not to offer an integrated economic vision. However, he did say, “[List members] have ideas for boosting the economy, removing obstacles facing investors, fighting corruption, and collecting taxes efficiently.” [Aswat Masriya, 10/16/2015]

Egypt negotiates with IMF over $5.5 billion loan for budget support
Egypt is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $5.5 billion loan to support the state budget, International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr said on Thursday. Egypt has embarked on a fiscal reform program in the hopes of reducing the budget’s widening financing gap. The IMF estimates the country’s financing gap at $20 billion over the next two years, IMF Director for the Middle East and North Africa Masood Ahmed said during annual meetings in Peru last week. [Ahram Online, 10/15/2015]

Tunisia sees growth at 2.5 percent in 2016
Tunisia’s economic growth is seen at 2.5 percent for 2016 versus an expected growth rate of 0.5 percent in 2015, Finance Minister Slim Chaker said on Friday. Chaker told reporters the country’s deficit was expected to narrow to 3.9 percent next year compared with an estimated 4.4 percent of gross domestic product this year. Chaker also said Tunisia needs 3 billion dinars in external financing for 2016 and expects to launch a delayed sukuk Islamic financing bond next year for 1 billion dinars. He said Tunisia expects inflation to slow to 4 percent next year from an expected 4.5 percent in 2015. Finally, Chaker announced announced that Tunisia will start a new system of automatic adjustments to petrol prices next year as an initial step to easing fuel subsidies. Tunisia is under pressure from international lenders to cut back on heavy public spending and subsidies as a way to ease its deficit. [Reuters, 10/16/2015]

Saudi Arabia launches committee to tackle unemployment
Saudi Arabia’s cabinet has approved the establishment of a Commission for Job Generation and Anti-Unemployment, in a bid to combat rising unemployment among young people. The commission was announced during a cabinet session this week chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. “This is a good measure given that this will allow for a very comprehensive review from the very top level, and allow for necessary measures from the broader perspective on job creation,” Saudi-based Director of the Ashmore Group John Sfakianakis said. Sfakianakis added that the government needs to signal to Saudis that it “won’t be the first or last” in terms of employing its citizens in government and ministerial jobs. [Al Arabiya, 10/15/2015]

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