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

Highlighting key findings of the recent research report issued in October by the World Economic Forum’s Energy Security Agenda Council titled “Lessons drawn from reforms of energy subsidies,” Badr Jafar, vice chair of the Global Agenda Council for Energy Security and managing director of Crescent Group spoke about the unintended adverse consequences of energy subsidies. According to the report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that $532 billion was spent on energy subsidies globally in 2011, a significant figure which, it argued, has impeded the work of market mechanics. In addition, recent research from Standard Chartered found that energy subsidies within the MENA region are equivalent to $237 billion annually, which is approximately half of the global total. [Arab News]
According to the head of Egypt’s Customs Authority, Mamdouh Omar, tax revenue reached EGP 80 billion in the last fiscal year. The government is targeting EGP 130 billion in tax revenues for the current fiscal year, said Omar, if it manages to implement a new Value Added Tax (VAT) system. Omar added that a law is being drafted for the introduction of VAT and the tax base will be split into three segments so that VAT will not exceed 3 percent for lower-rate taxpayers, to encourage them to use bills in their future dealings, and contribute to a just taxation system. [Ahram]
The Cabinet meeting, held on Monday, adopted the final version of the draft Finance Law 2014 and the supplementary draft budget for 2013. No amendments were made to the different provisions of the finance bill 2014, according to Minister of Finance Elyes Fakhfakh. This bill will be submitted Tuesday to the National Constituent Assembly, he said, adding that the Cabinet has modified some phrasing and formulations without altering the content of the bill. The Cabinet also adopted a series of draft decrees, including the project “Smart Tunisia” which seeks to promote transfer of services outside countries of origin and the creation of a unit of management by objectives. [TAP]
In the first large-scale operation of its kind in Yemen, the UN World Food Program (WFP) began this month providing cash transfers to 57,000 households in Taiz and Ibb governorates to help people supplement their food consumption. Cash transfers are part of WFP’s emergency safety-net program, which provides food assistance to some 3.8 million people across the country. WFP is implementing this innovative assistance tool in Yemen in cooperation with the Yemeni Posts and Postal Services Corporation and the Ministry of Education in selected districts with developed financial services and local markets. [Reuters]
Also of Interest:
EU to provide more aid to Egypt | DNE
Credit ratings rise for 3 major Egyptian banks | Ahram
Egypt to repay $1.5 billion debt to foreign oil firms in December | Zawya DJ [sub.-based]
Egypt’s thirst for cheap gas threatens export prospects |  Bloomberg
Opinion: Egypt’s bank profits ‘to be flat in 2013’ | Trade Arabia
GCC investor confidence in Egypt grows | Zawya DJ
US imports Egyptian ready-made garments worth $750 million in 9 months | Amwal Al-Ghad
Egypt-Italy sign agricultural exports agreement | ANSAMed
Jordan: Pundits slam gov’t for ‘repeating old mistakes’ in draft 2014 budget | Jordan Times
Libya’s oil production hostage to political unrest | FT
Tunisia: GDP up by 2.4 percent, in 3rd quarter of 2013 | TAP
UN-ESCWA inaugurates Tunis office | TAP
Yemen prepares strategy plan to deal with returning workers | Yemen Times