EconSource: IMF Approves $1.24 Billion Iraq Emergency Lifeline

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $1.24 billion emergency loan for Iraq on Thursday, saying the country needs extra support as it confronts the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and depressed oil prices. The money, which will be disbursed immediately, will help the Iraqi government meet urgent budget and balance of payments shortfalls as it undertakes fiscal and structural reforms. “The twin shocks faced by Iraq from the ISIS insurgency and the drop in global oil prices have severely widened the government deficit and caused a decline in international reserves,” said IMF Deputy Managing Director Mitsuhiro Furusawa. He added internal reform measures are needed to balance government finances and address large fiscal and external financing gaps. [AFP, 7/31/2015]

Tunisia cuts 2015 growth forecast after militant attacks
Tunisia has cut its 2015 growth forecast to 0.5 percent this year, down from an expected 1 percent, Finance Minister Slim Chaker said on Thursday, citing the “difficult situation” in its tourism sector after two major Islamist militant attacks. Chaker also told reporters that Tunisia would not be able to create 40,000 promised jobs due to higher spending on combating terrorism, including boosting security forces. Extra defence spending would cut 20 percent off planned development expenditure, Chaker said. He added that total spending will fall in 2015, bringing the deficit down to 4.8 percent instead of the previously forecast 4.9 percent. [Reuters, 7/30/2015]

Libya food imports fall as turmoil disrupts deliveries
Imports of food to Libya, including wheat, are dropping sharply as foreign shippers are avoiding making direct deliveries due to worsening turmoil in the country. There no signs of food shortages so far, but some prices are rising due to higher insurance costs and more expensive overland deliveries via neighboring countries. Husni Bey, chairman of the HB Group, one of the biggest food importers, consumer articles, and commodities, said wheat imports have fallen by 30 percent this year. Libya’s annual wheat imports should average between 1.7 million and 2.1 million tonnes, but it is not clear whether import needs will be met. [Reuters, 7/31/2015]

Egypt raises electricity prices for mid to high household usage
Egypt raised electricity prices on Thursday for mid to high household usage by an average of 19 percent for the 2015/2016 fiscal year, the electricity ministry said on Thursday. The government began raising electricity prices last year as part of a five year plan to reduce subsidies. Low-end household consumption is not affected by the latest rises. Mid-level household usage was the most affected by the latest price increases, with prices for consumption rising by just over 27 percent. [Reuters, 7/30/2015]

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Tunisia’s inflation drops to 4.1 percent in July | African Manager
Tunisia’s debt ratio reduced to 51.9 percent | African Manager
Algeria, Tunisia enhance electricity cooperation | l’Economiste Maghrebin (French)
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