EconSource: World Bank May Compensate Syria’s Neighbors for Refugee Costs

The World Bank plans to discuss the possibility of compensating Syria’s neighbors for the substantial financial cost of hosting refugees for long periods of time, Senior Advisor to the World Bank President Colin Bruce said in Geneva on Thursday. “We recognize that for many of these countries there’s a cost associated with hosting with refugees and they need to be compensated,” Bruce said. “It’s actually quite significant for countries like Jordan, for Lebanon and for Turkey, and some estimates put that at about 1.1 to 1.4 percent of [gross domestic product].” He noted that the World Bank is prepared to enter into a dialogue with it shareholders regarding compensation, particularly for middle-income countries “that do not have access to concessional resources.” Humanitarian officials have previously said that the World Bank’s rules forbid it from making grants to middle-income countries such as Lebanon. Bruce added that the bank is also mindful of the fact that refugees and migrants could have a positive economic impact over the longer term, and it is seeking to advise governments about policies that would generate a dividend from hosting displaced people. [Reuters, 10/15/2015]

Egypt’s Central Bank depreciates pound against dollar
The Egyptian Central Bank depreciated the pound for the third time this year after the nation’s foreign reserves tumbled and the currency fell to a record in black-market trading. The Egyptian pound weakened by 10 piasters to 7.93 per dollar on Thursday after the Central Bank reduced its price in an auction to 7.83 per dollar. This marks a 9.8 percent currency decline in 2015. The depreciation was expected and urged by many economists who say that propping up the pound had helped deplete Egypt’s foreign currency reserves. Egypt’s foreign currency reserves fell 9.7 percent in September to $16.3 billion, the third consecutive monthly drop, the central bank said last week. “[Devaluation] was becoming more expected given the toll that maintaining an overvalued currency was taking on the economy,” said Middle East Economist at Capital Economics Jason Turvey. “A move closer to the black market rate would, in our view, start to restore Egypt’s external competitiveness. But it’s difficult to see for how long and how far the central bank will allow the pound to fall.” [Reuters, AP, Bloomberg, Aswat Masriya, 10/15/2015]

Iraq sees oil production, exports rising in 2016
Iraq hopes to raise oil output and sell record volumes to customers from its southern terminal in 2016, according to a senior Iraqi oil source. “Production will rise next year. Not as steep as this year but it will rise. There will be no cut,” the source said. The plan is a further indication leading members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are not wavering in their pursuit of market share. The source said 2016 exports from southern Iraq were currently planned at 3 million to 3.2 million barrels per day (bpd). “Some 60 percent will go to Asia as (state oil marketing firm) SOMO has to serve its term customers. But for the first time in many years the European market looks more interesting than the Asian market. So Middle Eastern producers are looking to take that opportunity,” the source said. Meanwhile, Gulf Keystone said Thursday it had received a $15 million gross payment for crude oil exports by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), signalling that the KRG is serious about making regular payments to producers after months of building up debt. [Reuters, 10/14/2015]

Yemen’s Marib province to withhold oil revenues from Houthis
A local government run oil company in Yemen’s Marib province has been asked by Governor Sultan al-Aradeh to continue to withhold oil revenues from the Houthi-controlled capital. Media Secretary to the Governor Ali al-Ghoulais said that the governor alerted President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi about his decision and said that he would transfer the revenue to any branch of the Central Bank that is not controlled by the Houthis. Marib province has generated revenue by selling oil in the local market. Al-Ghoulais said the decision prompted the Houthis to cut salaries for the army in Marib. “I expect they will stop paying public servants in Marib next year, if this continues,” he added. Meanwhile, in the neighbouring Shabwa province, local authorities are trying to get oil and gas companies to share their revenues to help finance the electricity and security sectors. [Gulf News, 10/14/2015]

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