Follow the latest in economic news and developments about the Arab transition countries. 

Planning and International Cooperation Minister Ashraf al-Araby said that Egypt’s economy did not grow much during the first quarter of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, estimating the growth rate at a mere 1 percent in the first quarter and 2 percent in the second. Araby said the figures are a result of instability in the country, including the reshuffling of cabinet members and governors, dispersal of Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins and halting train operations between governorates. Araby added that these events forced the government to propose an urgent economic stimulus plan. “The economic situation is still tough, because of high unemployment rates,” said Araby. “The best solution would be to increase investment”. [Egypt Independent]

A bloated wage bill has drained Libya’s state coffers. Prime Minister Ali Zidan warned on November 27th that his government will not be able to pay the salaries of state employees, as oil exports were severely subdued. Oil output has risen slightly, to 224,000 barrels/day (b/d) in early December, but remains well below the pre-crisis level of 1.55m b/d. In fact crude production has hardly exceeded 40 percent of capacity since July, on the back of industrial action and forced shutdowns by disgruntled separatist leaders in the east. As 2014 draws near, the government will struggle even more to rein in recurrent spending, address the hefty wage bill and moderate the budget deficit. [EIU]

Morocco’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate at 3 percent on Tuesday forecasting inflation would be above its average of recent years but would stay in line with its price stability objective in the medium term. “Taking into account the expected level of international oil prices and the subsidy expenditures set in the Finance Bill 2014, inflation is projected at 2.1 percent in 2013, 2.5 percent in 2014,” the central bank said in a statement. The Moroccan government began to index oil prices partly to international levels in September to reduce its subsidies and meet international lenders’ requirements. [Reuters]

Three years since the outbreak of the first spark of the revolt of the “Arab Spring” in Tunisia, December 17, 2010, some observers believe that much has changed, while others think that “nothing has changed” or even that evolution had a rather negative effect on the economy. The government’s choices in economic policy have often been inadequate or excessive. The national economy has been affected and suffering today, at all levels and in all sectors. [Business News, French] 

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s finance minister discusses current economic situation and challenges | DNE
Egypt’s external debt on the rise, but still under control: Central Bank governor | Ahram
Interview: Hazem el-Biblawi, Egypt’s PM | FT
World Bank to fund water sanitation projects in 22 (Egyptian) Sohag villages | Cairo Post
FT report on Egypt’s economy | FT
Egypt considering pay rises for imams | Ahram
Swiss extend freeze on Ben Ali, Mubarak assets | AFP
Opinion: Egypt’s wage control is bad for business | The National
New Egyptian constitution will protect Saudi investments- diplomat | Cairo Post
EU promises to help bankroll Jordan’s ailing economy | The Atlantic Post
Turkey, Libya tension over letters of guarantee | Libya Business News
Central Bank of Libya: $300 million repaid to Turkey and Qatar | Libya Monitor [sub.-based]
Libya: Subsidies fund to borrow from banks | Libya Monitor
Arab fund lends Morocco KD 50 million to finance Tangier port | KUNA
Moroccans worried about pension reform | Magharerbia
Middle East youths tackle social problems by starting businesses | CSM