(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released Friday a study entitled "Towards New Horizons-Arab Economic Transformation Amid Political Transitions," which highlights the urgency of "pursuing bold economic policy reforms" to achieve economic stability and generate job-creating growth in the region
The study examines the economies of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya and concludes that "the near-term economic outlook continues to be challenging and that the priority for the coming year is maintaining economic stability." IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde affirmed that "Arab Countries in Transition have maintained economic stability while navigating through difficult economic and socio-political terrain." She noted that economic growth is "still too low and the jobs created are far too few to meet the aspirations of the people that took to the streets more than three years ago, in part to ensure better access to economic opportunity." "The priority now is to launch ambitious reforms to raise growth and make a dent in the countries' high rates of unemployment, especially among youth," she said
According to the study, unless strong economic and financial reforms are implemented, recovery will be "insufficient to reduce the region's high rates of unemployment in a meaningful way, particularly among the women and youth." The study recommends focusing on three medium-term policy priorities for Arab Countries in Transition (ACTs): "creating more jobs in the near term, reducing vulnerabilities to safeguard economic stability, and setting in motion reforms to generate higher and more inclusive growth in coming years." In addition, the study finds that "a strong economic reform agenda will be essential for propelling private sector activity and fostering a more dynamic, competitive, innovation-driven, and inclusive economy." For his part, Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia Department, said today at a news conference here that "the agenda for jobs and growth in the Arab Countries in Transition has to be tackled in a complex, evolving socio-political environment."
He stressed that "countries should carefully prioritize and sequence their reforms in the context of a changing political economy that requires broad-based consensus building and buy-in from stakeholders that were previously excluded." The study affirms that "stepped-up support from the international community will also be critical, through increased financing, better access for the ACT's exports to advanced economies' markets, and broader policy advice and capacity-building.