EconSource: ISIS Militants Breach Iraq Refinery Perimeter, Repelled

Militants from the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) breached the security perimeter around Iraq’s largest refinery in Baiji early on Monday but were beaten back by security forces and coalition air strikes, according to local officials. The refinery was under siege for five months by ISIS until security forces pushed out the militants in November. The militants’ withdrawal left a single supply line to the refinery, which the militants cut on Sunday, surrounding the complex once and setting fire to three oil storage tanks. [Reuters, 4/13/2015]

Tunisia says $1.3 billion needed in foreign loans to meet 2015 budget deficit target
Tunisia’s Finance Minister Slim Chaker announced that Tunisia needs $1.3 billion in foreign financing and loans to meet its budget deficit target this year. That would include $1 billion in loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that Tunis has already said it expects to receive this year. The government expects the budget deficit to narrow to 5 percent of GDP in 2015 and plans to sell minority stakes in several state-run banks to raise around $670 million to help cut the deficit. [Reuters, 4/13/2015]

Saudi Aramco deals boost EMEA Islamic loans to record start
Loan deals worth about $4 billion from the Saudi Arabian Oil Company and its joint venture Rabigh Refining & Petrochemical Company this year have fueled the busiest start ever for Islamic borrowing in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. About $7.1 billion of loans have been raised so far this year, compared with about $3 billion for the same period in 2014. The increase in borrowing highlights how companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council are maintaining investment even after crude prices dropped about 50 percent since June. [Bloomberg, 4/12/2015]

World Bank secures $400 million to support 1.5 million Egyptian families
The World Bank approved $400 million to Egypt’s government for a project set to benefit 1.5 million poor Egyptian families. Earlier this year, Egypt’s government established conditional cash transfer projects called “Takaful and Karama” (Solidarity and Dignity). Takaful targets poor families with children under eighteen to send them to schools, while Karama targets the elderly and the disabled who cannot earn a living wage. The World Bank believes the Takaful and Karama projects will “improve the … social safety net system, which is a critical element to accompany any reforms,” said Hafez Ghanem, the Bank’s regional vice president for the Middle East and North Africa. [DNE, Ahram Online, 4/11/2015]

Also of interest
Saudi Arabia’s plan to extend the age of oil (analysis) | Bloomberg
Morocco looks to drum up infrastructure investment from Gulf | The National
Egypt’s trade deficit decreases in January | Aswat Masriya
UAE fall in food prices has no immediate effect on CPI | Gulf News
Arab Monetary Fund releases the first edition of Arab Economic Outlook Report | Zawya