EconSource Headlines- January 31, 2014

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

Tunisia’s economy will expand less quickly than hoped this year, the central bank said on Thursday, cutting its growth forecast to 3.8 percent from 4 percent. The economy grew by 3 percent last year. The bank did not say why it was trimming its forecast. The bank said the budget deficit was 8.3 percent of GDP in 2013, compared with 8.2 percent a year earlier. Under pressure from international lenders to cut subsidies, the government hopes to reduce it to 6.5 percent this year, according to the 2014 budget. [Reuters]
The Central Bank of Libya has given its approval to a LYD 165-milion ($125 million) Islamic Real Estate Fund, shares in which will be traded on the Tripoli Stock Exchange. It is the first private real estate fund in the country, and the managers, Tadawul Financial Services, say they expect it to be oversubscribed. Returns in the region of 20 percent are anticipated. The main focus on investment, however, will be in four pre-defined development projects in Tripoli and Benghazi in partnership with the landowners. Investments will have to be approved by a Sharia board, as yet to be appointed. [Libya Herald]
Morocco’s long-awaited middle class housing plan is under way. The initiative will “give hundreds of thousands of Moroccan families access to decent housing at unbeatable prices”, according to Housing Minister Nabil Benabdallah. Some 20,000 homes will be built by 2016, he said. The government is already looking at thousands of hectares of available land. In the 2014 Finance Act, the prices for middle class housing were set at 7,200 dirhams per square meter for areas ranging between 80 and 150 square meters. [Magharebia]
The Yemeni government has allocated nearly a quarter of its 2014 budget to the health and education sectors in a bid to meet the needs of the poorest Yemenis. According to Ali al-Shamahi, assistant undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance, the education sector was allocated 512.3 billion riyals ($2.4 billion) and the health sector 169.6 billion riyals ($790 million) in this year’s budget, about 14 percent and 17.5 percent more, respectively, than was allocated to each in the 2013 budget. [Al-Shofra
Also of Interest:
Egypt’s FDI slow in Q1 of 2013/14: CBE | Ahram
WB allocated $6 million to Egypt | MENA
Opinion: Persian Gulf aid can’t fix Egypt | Bloomberg
EU support program to Tunisia’s civil society launched | TAP
Total shuts down operations at Yemen oil field | Reuters
Analysis: Yemeni gov’t struggles to avoid economic collapse | Xinhua