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IMF chief warns of high Arab public debt

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IMF chief warns of high Arab public debt

DUBAI: IMF has warned today that Public debt has rapidly increased in many Arab countries since the 2008 global financial crisis, due to persistently high budget deficits.

“Unfortunately, the region has yet to fully recover from the global financial crisis and other big economic dislocations over the past decade,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said. “Among oil importers, (economic) growth has picked up, but it is still below pre-crisis levels,” she told the Arab Fiscal Forum in Dubai. Lagarde said public debt among Arab oil importing nations had increased from 64 percent to 85 percent of Gross Domestic Product in the decade since 2008. Nearly half of these countries now have a public debt of over 90 percent of GDP, she said. Public debt among oil exporters – including the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council – rose from 13 percent of GDP to 33 percent of GDP, accelerated by the crash in oil prices around five years ago, Lagarde said.

“The oil exporters have not fully recovered from the dramatic oil price shock of 2014,” she said.  “Modest growth continues, but the outlook is highly uncertain,” Lagarde said oil-producing countries should look to renewable energy in the coming decades, in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, which stipulates a reduction in greenhouse emissions. The IMF last month lowered its economic growth forecasts for Saudi Arabia — the world’s top crude exporter – and the wider Middle East and North Africa region due to a renewed fall in oil prices, low output, and geopolitical tensions. Lagarde welcomed both spending and revenue reforms, including the introduction of a value-added-tax (VAT) and excise duty by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But she urged more reforms, anti-corruption measures, and transparency.”The economic path ahead for the region is challenging,” she added.

 

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Economy

French Police arrest 100 Yellow Vest demonstrators

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PARIS: French police said they arrested more than 100 “yellow vest” demonstrators today in Paris as thousands of protestors took to the streets for the 23rd week of anti-government marches.

Scuffles between police and protesters in the afternoon, after hours of calm, as police used anti-riot grenades and tear gas to disperse marchers in the center of the French capital. Police headquarters reported 126 arrests and 11,000 checks on individual protesters. Paris seemed to bear the brunt of Saturday’s protests, but other French cities were also expecting demonstrations.

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron signed into law legislation that gave security forces greater powers at demonstrations but which opponents claimed violated civil liberties. One measure banned protestors from covering their faces, but France’s Constitutional Council, its highest constitutional authority, refused to give its green light to one of the most contentious parts of the legislation. 

It would also have given the authorities the power to ban from demonstrations any individual “posing a particularly serious threat to public order”. The “yellow vest” movement is demanding changes to the government’s social and fiscal policies.

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Asia

BMW to recall over 360K vehicles in China

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BEIJING: BMW will recall 360,001 vehicles in China to replace defective airbags, according to a State Administration for Market Regulation statement.
The recall, set to begin on Aug. 30, involves 272,880 vehicles produced by BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. between Jan. 2, 2014 and Oct. 16, 2017, and 87,121 imported models manufactured between 5th April 2000, and 21st Feb. 2018.
A defect could cause the airbags to eject debris at passengers if deployed.
The defective airbags were made by now-defunct Japanese supplier Takata. Founded in 1933, Takata went out of business in 2017 because of the airbag crisis. BMW will replace the defective airbags free of charge.

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Economy

Govt. to assist rain-affected farmers

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ISLAMABAD: Government has promised to take all administrative and relief measures to help farmers hit by rain-related incidents, as a special relief package will soon be announced for the farmers whose crops were damaged in rains.
Minister for National Food and Security Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan expressed concern over the problems faced by farmers due to abnormal weather conditions.
He said the government would take all possible measures to facilitate the people related to farming so as to benefit from the potential of this sector.
The government has been successful in bringing about awareness amongst farmers through new initiatives taken for the development of the agriculture sector in the country, he added.
Minister said the PTI led government was doing its best to estimate the damages to the crops as well as human losses in the rains at the earliest.
He said the damage caused to standing crops due to heavy rains is moderate and there is no likelihood of food insecurity or emergency situation thereof.
The met department has been directed to remain vigilant and maintain liaison with provincial agriculture departments for the timely weather forecast, he mentioned.

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