EconSource: World Bank Plans to Lend Tunisia $5 Billion Over Five Years

The World Bank plans to lend Tunisia $5 billion over five years to support the country’s democratic transition and revive its economy, World Bank Tunisia Country Manager Eileen Murray said. “The bank has developed a strategy for five years and plans to lend Tunisia $1 billion per year,” she said. “We have confidence in Tunisia’s transition and will continue to support its economy and to finance infrastructure projects and financial and education sectors.” Murray said the World Bank will support reforms to create an environment conducive to stimulating investment and job creation. It also plans to intensify efforts to support development in disadvantaged areas. She said Tunisia’s economic reforms are heading in the right direction but will take more time. She urged Tunisia to continue reforms in the financial sector and in transparency to attract foreign investment and boost employment. [Reuters, 3/25/2016]

Siemens, Iraq sign MoU for energy modernization
German industrial group Siemens signed a memorandum of understanding with Iraq to modernize the country’s energy infrastructure and oil and gas sector. Under the terms of the MoU, the firm will develop an enhanced energy concept to advise the Iraqi government on the development of the country’s power generation and infrastructure. “With this important agreement we intensify the long lasting partnership between Siemens and Iraq,” Siemens Managing Board Member Siegfried Russwurm said. “With our broad portfolio and comprehensive expertise in power generation, transmission as well as in [the] oil and gas sector we will assist and support the Iraqi Government to develop a sustainable and modern electricity system to ensure the country’s economic and social development,” he added. Russwurm signed the deal in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Minister of Electricity Qassim Al-Fahdawi. [Reuters, Trade Arabia, 3/24/2016]

Syrian pound falls below 500 per dollar
The Syrian pound fell to a record low below 500 to the dollar on the black market on Thursday driven down by doubts that the conflict, which has cost the country an estimated $260 billion, can be resolved soon. Thursday’s rates reflect a more than 90 percent fall in the pound since the crisis erupted in 2011. “The dollar has become a safe haven currency and there are few hopes that [talks in] Geneva [will] put an end to conflict,” said a Damascus-based banker. The pound has continued to suffer from fears about the impact of Russia’s military drawdown in Syria. “The fear after the Russian pullback that the regime could fall had prompted panic buying of dollars in the market and this has been a major psychological factor that has weighed down on the pound since then,” said Head of the Jordanian Exchange Association Alaa Diraniya. He said the pound hit 500 on the black market in Damascus on Thursday and opened at 495 in Aleppo. The central bank set the rate at just under 443 pounds. At the start of the Syrian crisis, the dollar was worth 47 pounds. [Reuters, 3/24/2016]

Erdogan aide says Turkey’s central bank should have cut rates further
The Central Bank of Turkey should have cut interest rates more at this week’s policy meeting, aide to President Tayyip Erdogan Cemil Ertem said Friday. The bank kept its benchmark rate steady for the 13th straight month on Thursday, but cut its overnight lending rate for the first time since February 2015 during the last meeting of Governor Erdem Basci’s current term. Markets are waiting to see whether Basci will be reappointed for another five-year term after April 19. In a presentation to economists on Friday, the bank said it had decided to take a “measured” step towards policy simplification. However Ertem said that the 25-basis point cut in the overnight lending rate, the highest of the three rates the bank uses to set policy, would not be enough to have an impact. “If it had at least cut the upper band by 75 basis points it would have had a more positive impact,” he said, adding the bank’s move will constrain growth. [Reuters, 3/25/2016]

Egypt fails to secure April LNG shipments
Egypt’s state-owned EGAS has so far failed to fill a tender to buy two liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments due in April, trade sources said. EGAS launched a tender last week that was only open to some of its existing suppliers for the delivery of one cargo in April 1-7 and another in April 27-28. Traders said the first delivery window was difficult to arrange given the short notice period. For the late-April cargo, EGAS lined up commodity trader Trafigura as the supplier, but the deal ran into difficulties after EGAS tried to shift delivery to mid-April. As of Thursday, the slots have still not been filled, however EGAS is still in talks with potential suppliers. [Reuters, 3/25/2016]

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