A 165-strong international group including 92 former presidents and prime ministers, along with current economic and health leaders in the developed and developing world, have come together to demand the creation of a G20 executive task force and an immediate global pledging conference which would approve and co-ordinate a multi-billion dollar coronavirus fighting fund.
In an open letter addressed to G20 leaders, the group – which wants both to speed up the search for a vaccine, cure and treatments and revive the global economy – urges global collaboration and commitment to funding ‘far beyond the current capacity of our existing international institutions’.
“The economic emergency will not be resolved until the health emergency is addressed: the health emergency will not end simply by conquering the disease in one country alone but by ensuring recovery from COVID-19 in all countries,” the statement says.
The plea is for agreement within days for:
$8 billion to rapidly hasten the global effort for vaccines, cure and treatment;
$35 billion to support health systems — from ventilators to test kits and protective equipment for health workers; and
$150 billion for developing countries to fight the medical and economic crisis, prevent a second wave of the disease flowing back into countries as they come out of the first wave. This means waiving debt interest payments for the poorest countries, including $44 billion due this year from Africa.
$500-$600billion issue of additional resources by the IMF in the form of special drawing rights.
The letter also urges the co-ordination of fiscal stimuli to avoid a recession becoming a depression.
While welcoming the G20’s first communique on the COVID-19 crisis, the group is pressing the G20 to speed up an action plan.
The group states: “All health systems – even the most sophisticated and best funded – are buckling under the pressures of the virus. Yet if we do nothing as the disease spreads in poorer African, Asian and Latin American cities which have little testing equipment, hardly any ventilators, and few medical supplies; and where social distancing and even washing hands are difficult to achieve, COVID-19 will persist there – and re-emerge to hit the rest of the world with further rounds that will prolong the crisis.
“World leaders must immediately agree to commit $8 billion – as set out by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board – to fill the most urgent gaps in the COVID-19 response. This includes $1 billion this year for WHO, $3 billion for vaccines and $2.25 billion for therapeutics.
“Instead of each country, or state or province within it, competing for a share of the existing capacity, with the risk of rapidly-increasing prices, we should also be vastly increasing capacity by supporting the WHO in coordinating the global production and procurement of medical supplies, such as testing kits, personal protection equipment, and ITU technology to meet fully the worldwide demand. We will also need to stockpile and distribute essential equipment.
“$35 billion will be required, as highlighted by WHO, to support countries with weaker health systems and especially vulnerable populations, including the provision of vital medical supplies, surge support to the national health workforce (70% of whom in many countries are underpaid women) and strengthening national resilience and preparedness.
“According to WHO, almost 30% of countries have no Covid\\\OVID-19 national preparedness response plans and only half have a national infection prevention and control program. Health systems in lower-income countries will struggle to cope; even the most optimistic estimates from Imperial College London suggest there will be 900,000 deaths in Asia and 300,000 in Africa.
“We propose convening a global pledging conference – its purpose supported by a G20 Executive Task Force – to commit resources to meeting these emergency global health needs.”
On the global economic outlook, the group proposes a range of measures and says:
“Much has been done by national governments to counter the downward slide of their economies. But a global economic problem requires a global economic response. Our aim should be to prevent a liquidity crisis turning into a solvency crisis, and a global recession becoming a global depression. To ensure this, better coordinated fiscal, monetary, central bank, and anti-protectionist initiatives are needed. The ambitious fiscal stimuli of some countries will be all-the-more effective if more strongly complemented by all countries in a position to do so.
“The long-term solution is a radical rethink of global public health and a refashioning – together with proper resourcing – of the entwined global health and financial architecture. “The UN, the G20 and interested partners should work together to co-ordinate further action.”
Bulent Gökay, Keele University elaborates on how Turkey tries to keep wheels of economy turning despite worsening coronavirus crisis. It, contrary to its neighbours, would not go down the same way. Read on to find out why.
Turkey confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus on March 11, but since then the speed of its infection rate has surpassed that of many other countries with cases doubling every two days. On April 2, Turkey had more than 15,000 confirmed cases and 277 deaths from complications related to the coronavirus, according to data collated by John Hopkins University.
The Turkish government has called for people to stay at home and self-isolate. Mass disinfection has been carried out in all public spaces in cities. To encourage residents to stay at home, all parks, picnic areas and shorelines are closed to pedestrians.
Some airports are closed and all international flights to and from Turkey were banned on March 27. All schools, universities, cafes, restaurants, and mass praying in mosques and other praying spaces has been suspended, and all sporting activities postponed indefinitely.
Manufacturing remains open
Many small businesses in the service sector are closed, and many companies in banking, insurance and R&D have switched to working from home. But in many industrial sectors, such as metal, textile, mining and construction, millions of workers are still forced to go to work or face losing their jobs. In Istanbul, where more than a quarter of Turkey’s GDP is produced, the public transport system still carries over a million people daily.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, has openly opposed a total lockdown, arguing a stay-at-home order would halt all economic activity. On March 30, he said continuing production and exports was the country’s top priority and that Turkey must keep its “wheels turning”.
But in the short term, many of Turkey’s export markets for minerals, textiles and food, such as Germany, China, Italy, Spain, Iran and Iraq, are already closed due to the virus. This has led to enormous surpluses piling up in warehouses. Even where there are overseas customers, getting the goods delivered has proven difficult. The process of sanitising and disinfecting the trucks and testing the drivers before they travel takes many extra hours, sometime days, after waiting in long lines.
Still, Erdogan’s statements give the impression that he sees this pandemic not only as a serious crisis, but also as an opportunity for Turkish manufacturers. The hope is that, after the Chinese shutdown, European producers which depend on Chinese companies for a range of semi-finished products may consider Turkey as an alternative supplier in the longer term. That’s why the government is still allowing millions of workers to go to factories, mines and construction sites despite the huge health risk.
A bruised economy
The Turkish government announced a 100 billion lira (£12 billion) stimulus package on March 18. It included tax postponement and subsidies directed at domestic consumption, such as reducing VAT on certain items and suspension of national insurance payments in many sectors for six months. But this is an insignificant sum for an economy as big as Turkey’s.
Most of the support will go to medium and large companies that were forced to close, and only a very tiny amount to individual workers. In order to benefit from the scheme, a person must have worked at least 600 days in the past three years (450 days for those in Ankara). Those with most need get the lowest level of help or no help from the state.
The tourism sector, which accounts for about 12% of the economy, has already been decimated. Some 2.5 million workers will not be able to work as they had been expecting to in the peak tourist months between April and September.
Limited room for manoeuvre
Even before the virus hit Turkey the economy was already weak, still trying to recover from the impacts of a 2016 coup attempt and a 2018 currency crisis, both of which caused severe stress to Turkey’s economic and financial systems.
In March, Turkey’s Central Bank reduced its benchmark interest rate by 1%, and several of the country’s largest private banks announced measures to support the economy, such as suspending loan repayments. As a result, the Turkish lira initially held up reasonably well, compared with other emerging market economies, but it fell to an 18-month low on April 1 as the coronavirus death rates accelerated. Official interest rates have fallen below 10%, providing some protection to those holding Turkish lira versus some foreign currencies.
Turkey’s financial options to limit the impact of the crisis are limited. Credit rating agency Moody’s revised its prediction for the country GDP from 3% growth in 2020 to a 1.4% contraction. Still, it may get a reprieve from the low oil price. Turkey imports almost all its energy needs, and with the recent fall in the price of oil and gas, this means Turkey could save about US$12 billion (£9.6 billion) in energy imports.
It is hard to see very far ahead. During the next few months, it’s expected that Turkey, alongside South Africa and Argentina, could be sliding toward insolvency and debt default. After that, everything depends on how this crisis progresses and how long it will take to end.
MENA sovereign wealth funds are set to yank billions from stock markets, with the cash needed back home reportedAlison Tahmizian Meuse in an article Gulf faces recession as oil deluge meets COVID-19 in an Asian Times article dated March 30, 2020. It is said elsewhere notably in the local media that these sovereign funds could shed something like $300 billion.
Middle East oil exporters are bracing for recession and the lowest growth rates since the 1990s, with economists warning that the “twin shocks” of Covid-19 and plummeting oil prices will have a knock-on effect across the region.
“Quarantines, disruption in supply chains, the crash in oil prices in light of the breakdown of OPEC+, travel restrictions, and business closings point to a recession in the MENA region, the first in three decades,” the Institute of International Finance warned this week.
Oil exporters in the Gulf and North Africa are projected to see growth levels drop to 0.8%, IIF said, based on an average price per barrel of $40. At the time of publication on Monday, crude was hovering at cents above $20 per barrel.
Petro-titans like Saudi Arabia, which have shifted major resources toward sovereign wealth funds in recent years, are expected to recall funds back home as their collective surplus of $65 billion is flipped inside out to a deficit of the same amount or more.
These sovereign wealth funds could shed up to $75 billion in stocks in the coming period, Reuters on Sunday quoted JPMorgan’s Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou as saying.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund currently holds significant shares in everything from ride-hailing app Uber to Japan’s SoftBank.
Such funds have likely already offloaded as much as $150 billion-worth of stock in the month of March, said Panigirtzoglou.
How did we get here?
Saudi Arabia earlier this month launched an oil price war, flooding the market with crude in a game of chicken against Russia after the latter refused to collaborate on production cuts.
Moscow, which desired lower prices to compete with US shale, did not blink.
The result has been, Bloomberg reports, a “cascade” of oil surplus, with some landlocked producers literally paying buyers to relieve them of supplies they cannot store.
From Saudi Arabia to Algeria, MENA exporters are expected to see hydrocarbon earnings fall by nearly $200 billion this year, according to the Institute of International Finance report, resulting in a loss of more than 10% of GDP in this sector alone.
As the price war was launched, the novel coronavirus began spreading through the Gulf, shattering hopes of diversifying toward tourism in the near future.
Saudi Arabia, with approximately 1,300 confirmed cases as of Monday, has shuttered the gates of Mecca over fears it could become the new virus epicenter after Iran.
The religious pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites, mandatory for every Muslim, nets Saudi Arabia billions of dollars each year.
The financial troubles in the Gulf do not stop at the Persian Gulf, but are slated to have a painful knock-on effect across the Middle East region.
Young people from Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt – with its population of 100 million, have for decades turned to the Gulf Arab states for jobs after graduation, doing everything from running restaurants in Riyadh to working in banks in Dubai.
Such positions have become even more crucial in a time of heightened visa restrictions in the United States and Europe.
A recession in the Gulf, thus spells an even worse outlook for already struggling economies in the Levant, which often look to the oil producers for help during hard times.
“A global recession will lead to a reduction in trade, foreign direct investment, tourism flows, and remittances to Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Lebanon,” IIF said.
Egypt, the report notes, is expected to see a “significant drop” in critical Suez Canal transit revenues, as global trade suffers.
The Egyptian government earlier this month revoked the press credentials of Guardian correspondent Ruth Michaelson after she reported on a researcher’s findings that Egypt was seeing a higher number of Covid-19 cases than reported.
Recent oil market developments reveal a strong and sustained declining trend in the global oil demand, which is now expected to peak in 2040 or earlier. This outlook spells a significant fiscal sustainability challenge for the GCC region, says a new International Monetary Agency (IMF) report. The expected speed and size of the fiscal consolidation programmes in most GCC countries may not be sufficient to stabilise their wealth. These adjustments need to be accelerated and sustained over a long period of time, in line with the expected path of hydrocarbon revenue, says the study titled “The Future of Oil and Fiscal Sustainability in the GCC Region.” The oil market is undergoing fundamental change; new technologies are increasing the supply of oil from old and new sources, while rising concerns over the environment are seeing the world gradually moving away from oil. The combination of rising supply amid the global push to reduce reliance on fossil fuels is expected to continue, heralding what has been dubbed “the age of oil abundance”, the report says. This spells a significant challenge for oil-exporting countries, including those of the GCC who account for a fifth of the world’s oil production, says the report. The GCC countries have recognised the need to reduce their reliance on oil and are all implementing reforms to diversify their economies as well as fiscal and external revenues. Nevertheless, as global oil demand is expected to peak in the next two decades, the associated fiscal imperative could be both larger and more urgent than implied by the GCC countries’ existing plans. At the current fiscal stance, the region’s financial wealth could be depleted by 2034. Fiscal sustainability will require significant consolidation in the coming years. Its speed is an intergenerational choice. Fully preserving current wealth will require large upfront fiscal adjustments. More gradual efforts would ease the short-term adjustment burden but at the expense of resources available to future generations, it says. Anticipating and preparing for what comes next will be critical for oil-exporting regions. Oil remains critical to both external and fiscal revenues and overall GDP of the GCC states. A legacy of sharply rising fiscal expenditure during 2007–14 followed by a steep decline in hydrocarbon revenues have weakened fiscal positions in the GCC region. The decline in oil revenues sparked a period of intensive reforms, including sizable fiscal consolidations. Nevertheless, the effect of lower hydrocarbon revenue is yet to be fully offset. The resulting fiscal deficits have lowered the region’s net financial wealth during 2014–18, the report says. A path of prolonged deceleration in hydrocarbon revenue growth would add to this decline in wealth. At the current fiscal stance, the region’s existing financial wealth could be depleted in the next 15 years, warns the report. Although the importance of non-oil sectors has increased in recent decades, many of them still rely on oil-based demand either in the form of public spending of oil revenue or private expenditure of oil-derived wealth. The 2014–15 oil price shock, which notably slowed non-oil growth in most of the region, was a stark reminder of this dependence, it says. Recognising this challenge, the GCC countries are all implementing programmes to diversify their economies as well as fiscal and external revenues away from oil. The success of these programmes will be central to achieving strong and sustainable growth in the years to come, says the report.The report estimates that growth of global oil demand will significantly decelerate, and its level could peak in the next two decades. In assessing the long-term oil market prospects, it is useful to look beyond the geopolitical and cyclical factors and focus on trends that are robust to temporary shocks. Growth of global demand for natural gas is also expected to slow, although it is expected to remain positive in the coming decades. The fiscal policy need implied by this challenge is both larger and more urgent when compared to GCC countries’ existing plans. In the context of broader goals of sustainability and sharing of exhaustible oil wealth with future generations, all GCC countries have recognised the lasting nature of their challenge and are already planning continued fiscal adjustment in the context of their broader strategic long-term visions. Managing the long-term fiscal transition will require wide-ranging reforms and a difficult intergenerational choice. Continued economic diversification will be important but would not suffice on its own. Countries will also need to step up their efforts to raise non-oil fiscal revenue, reduce government expenditure, and prioritise financial saving when economic returns on additional public investment are low. While fiscal starting positions are still strong in a global context in four of the six GCC countries, the longer-term fiscal challenges are substantial, the report adds. –
OPEC earned about $711 billion in net oil export revenues (unadjusted for inflation) in 2018
Saudi Arabia accounted for the largest share of total OPEC earnings, $237 billion
India only imports between 4.5 and 5 million barrels per day of oil, but it is shaping up to be the biggest competitive space for producers
OPEC is still making money, despite challenges coming from every which way.
Be it falling prices, market volatility, regional insecurity, trade wars, armed conflict, talks of recession, US production, electric vehicles and renewable energy, or US Iranian sanctions, OPEC still finds a way to generate billions in revenues.
Now, mixed with current production leaders are a few new players making a splash.
The 2018 net oil export revenues increased by 32% from the $538 billion earned in 2017, mainly as a result of the increase in average annual crude oil prices during the year and a slight increase in OPEC net oil exports.
Saudi Arabia accounted for the largest share of total OPEC earnings, $237 billion in 2018, representing one-third of total OPEC oil revenues.
EIA expects that OPEC net oil export revenues will decline to about $604 billion (unadjusted for inflation) in 2019, based on forecasts of global oil prices and OPEC production levels in EIA’s August 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), according to Hellenic Shipping News.
EIA’s forecasts that OPEC crude oil production will average 30.1 million barrels per day (BPD) in 2019, 1.8 million BPD lower than in 2018.
For 2020, OPEC revenues are expected to be $580 billion, largely as a result of lower OPEC production.
Important countries to watch for in the oil sector
5. India—Right now India only imports between 4.5 and 5 million barrels per day of oil, but it is shaping up to be the biggest competitive space for producers.
India is the third-largest oil consumer in the world. Previously, the biggest competition ground for oil producers was for sales to China, but with 1.37 billion people, India has the potential to impact the market much like China has.
4. Saudi Arabia—This Arab Gulf nation owns the world’s most profitable (oil) company, houses the second-largest proven oil reserves in the world, and has the most spare capacity of any country. Oil from Saudi Arabia fuels much of east Asia. Aramco is also expanding its exports to India to compensate for lost Iranian oil.
2. China—This country is the second-largest consumer of oil and is the largest oil importer in the world at around 10.64 million barrels per day. China is such an important oil consumer that any indication that economic growth in China is slowing sends oil prices tumbling.
1. United States –The U.S. is currently producing oil at record levels (12.3 million barrels per day according to the EIA). This is being driven by the shale oil industry. The U.S has shown its ability to impact other countries’ oil business, as it did with Iran’s exports in recent months. Presidential tweets also impact prices.
Author Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years’ experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.
“Developing an angel investor pool in the Middle East will create more opportunities and will strengthen regional economic growth” said Ramesh Jagannathan, Managing Director of startAD when introducing his article for Arabian Business weekly dated March 16, 2019.
Financing the angel investment market in Africa, Asia, Europe and America is estimated to be worth $50bn
We live in an exciting age for entrepreneurs. Fuelled by governments in the Middle East, the desire of transforming to an entrepreneurial based economy and boosting investment into building a healthy start-up ecosystem is high-up on the agenda. While there are sufficient funds to fuel potential start-ups in the ecosystem, the risk averse nature of venture capital (VC) firms mean they tend to concentrate their investments in later stage start-ups with crisper valuations. In a mature ecosystem, less than 1 percent of start-ups receive VC funding, and in emerging markets, this number drops by a factor of two. As VC investments continue to move towards more mature start-ups, there is a widening void of funding for early stage start-ups. The effect is not as severe in mature ecosystems as in an emerging ecosystem for a number of reasons.
Angel investors have traditionally filled this void. For example, in the US, annual angel investments of $24bn are being made in over 64,000 start-ups. In fact, 74 percent of all Silicon Valley investments are from entrepreneurial angels, who were previously a founder or a CEO of their own start-up. The phenomenon of “founders funding founders” highlights the organic nature of the process, that they are “local” and have a deep understanding of the entrepreneurship ecosystem and play a vital role in building the ecosystem. This deep knowledge helps to mitigate some of the risks that come with ambiguous valuation of early stage start-ups. More than 60 percent of the angels become active mentors of the start-ups they have invested in and generally take a board seat. More than half of them have a technology background.
By 2030, 88 percent of the next billion people joining the middle class will primarily come from India and China
Having the “right” angel investor tends to de-risk the entrepreneurial process and increases the start-ups’ success rate in raising funds in future rounds. Angels generally see 11 percent of their portfolio producing positive returns.
On the other hand, in emerging ecosystems, there is a dearth of previously successful entrepreneurs, thereby creating a “catch 22” situation. The time scale of the process to build a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem is made more acute by the fact that 67 percent of start-ups fail at some point in the process due to inability to raise a subsequent round of financing. The paradox is this: to have a healthy, sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem, one needs a significant pool of high quality start-ups to cater to a large consumer middle-class and angel investors who have been successful entrepreneurs, preferably within the ecosystem. In other words, while having significant individual or group (eg syndicates) wealth is necessary, they are definitely not sufficient to build a robust ecosystem in an emerging economy, if the wealth is not “hard-wired” to local entrepreneurial experience. Ecosystems are organic in nature.
In India and China, this enigma has been resolved. While the pool of technology talent in these two countries has always been immense, due to the absence of middle-class, post WWII saw a significant “brain drain” from India and China to the US and Silicon Valley. The exodus of the “cream of the crop” from India, especially from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), was unstoppable after the 1970s and from China since 1979, when the Chinese government started to send its best and brightest students and scholars to the US to catch up with western science and technology. By 1990, about 33 percent of all scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley were from India and China. Of these. 71 percent of these Chinese and 87 percent of these Indians arrived after 1970.
Going forward, by 2030, 88 percent of the next billion people joining the middle class will primarily come from India and China. We are now seeing a significant reverse “brain drain” of Indians and Chinese engineers, scientists and investors back to their homelands. About 80 percent of those returning hold graduate degrees in science, technology or business. China now boasts a sound angel investment culture, and while it’s still in its early stages in India it is gaining steam rapidly as the VC infrastructure is getting foundationally strong.
Turning our focus now to the UAE, and the GCC countries, the opportunity to “ride the wave” of India and China’s global tech dominance is crystal clear. But there are still gulfs to cross, such as the absence of a large, local technology talent pool. Without a disciplined and informed state-of-the-art process that dovetails to a VC infrastructure – by leveraging the local societal sensibilities and strategic inter-governmental alliances – the strength of access to large sums of local capital could quickly become our Achilles’ heel.
By all the ingredients for a master recipe to create a dominant UAE digital economy are in place and we need to diligently prepare, suit up and ride the long wave
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, discussed the role of governments in stimulating entrepreneurial ecosystems and compares the strengths of funding (supply side) versus founding based (demand) policies. Thiele recommended supply side policies as a mechanism to catalyse growth. However, in emerging economies, we could describe it as a “many body problem”.
We need to stimulate the process of accelerating the flow of global start-up talent into the ecosystem through the UAE.
Besides the government, this process should embed the local competency private sector stakeholders, such as in aviation, energy, transportation and logistics and finance industries. The Venture Launchpad programme at startAD is a classic example that shows significant promise.
Simultaneously, we should educate the regional angel investors about the mechanics and rigors of angel investment in digital start-ups and democratise access. The annual Angel Rising Symposium, now in its fifth year, brings the best minds from around the globe to discuss the best practises that are regionally relevant. The third piece of the puzzle is about building local capacity. StartAD and Khalifa Fund are partnering together to build the acceleration ramp to the global digital economic highway through programmes such as Ibtikari and Pitch@Palace.
All the ingredients for a master recipe to create a dominant UAE digital economy are in place and we need to diligently prepare, suit up and ride the long wave, leading the MENA region.
The Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain is said to ask Allies for Aid. As a minuscule islet tucked between Qatar’s and the Arabian peninsulas, it has been among the hardest hit in the Gulf Cooperation council countries by the currently low oil prices. As a matter of fact, all countries of the Gulf are reported to be facing yearly state budgets restrictions, developments curtailment and investments restraints generally.
Per a recent Bloomberg report, Bahrain has asked its Gulf allies, notably Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates and Kuwait for financial aid whereas ironically, it was once promoted as a potential financial center of the region. This request is believed to be critical to help prevent a potential devaluation of its currency.
This past summer, the IMF mentioned that the country’s budget deficit although narrowing this year, would very likely to remain the largest in the region.
Bahrain has asked Gulf allies for financial assistance as it seeks to replenish its foreign-exchange reserves and avert a currency devaluation that could reverberate across the region, according to people with knowledge of the talks.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were approached, two of the people said. A third person said Kuwait was also asked. The countries responded by requesting the island kingdom do more to bring its finances under control in return for the money, the people said on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private. The talks are at an early stage, one person said.
The slump in oil prices has battered the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, at times raising questions over whether a dollar peg seen as a bedrock for economic stability for more than three decades was sustainable. While bets against the region’s currencies have subsided this year, a devaluation of a GCC member would risk shifting the attention to others. Gulf central banks, including Bahrain’s, have repeatedly brushed aside talk of abandoning their exchange-rate regimes.
“Most people are fully expecting the other Gulf countries to come to Bahrain’s aid,” said Jason Tuvey, a London-based economist at Capital Economics. “If Bahrain was forced to devalue its currency it would probably start to raise questions about other currency pegs.”
Bahrain, the Gulf’s smallest economy and a close Saudi ally, has been more vulnerable to slumping oil prices and regional political instability than richer neighbors. Several countries in the region have cut spending and curtailed handouts to their citizens. The International Monetary Fund expects Bahrain’s budget deficit to be the highest in the GCC this year even as it narrows.
The central bank’s foreign reserves, including gold, have tumbled about 75 percent since 2014 to just above 522 million dinars ($1.39 billion) in August, according to the most recent official data. Without aid or a recovery in oil revenue, authorities may struggle to keep the currency’s peg to the U.S. dollar — maintained at 0.376 Bahraini dinars.
Expectations among investors and credit-rating companies that rich Gulf states would prevent Bahrain’s difficulties from morphing into a full-blown financial crisis have cushioned its assets and allowed it to tap global bond markets as recently as September, when it raised $3 billion. Bahrain’s debt risk, measured by five-year credit default swaps, has dropped more than 60 basis points to 241 as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Saudi Arabia led a military intervention to support Bahrain’s government during protests that broke out in 2011. Authorities have repeatedly blamed the instability on Shiite-ruled Iran. Bahrain is also a member of a Saudi-led coalition boycotting neighboring Qatar.
A bond prospectus in September included a warning from authorities that falling reserves carried the risk of a currency depreciation. The central bank, being a “significant” lender to the government, may not be able to maintain the peg, according to the document seen by Bloomberg News. Bahrain didn’t cite that risk in its prospectus in 2013.
Officials in Bahrain, the U.A.E. and Kuwait didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the aid talks. Saudi officials couldn’t immediately be reached.
November 23, 2017 Local Elections : harbingers of an uncertain future ?
A presidential decree to call for the elections of the Municipalities and Governorates assemblies scheduled it to take place on Thursday, November 23, 2017. We propose well in advance of these local elections to review the New Missions of Local Authorities amidst budget pressures.
The crisis linked to the fall in the price of oil and its impact on the country’s budget must bring the authorities to change their discourse on the economic role of both the central State and Local Authorities.
The pursued policies in recent years regarding the Local Authorities management need to be reviewed, because the era of transfers of the State budgets to overcome deficits of management is over. Sources of funding because of budget restrictions would have to move in the direction of a rationalisation of expenditure; management in Local Authorities remains imprinted with a strong tendency to spending.
Local Authorities’ welfare of local business/citizens
The Department of Municipal Affairs made up of 48 Local Authorities (Wilayas or provincial councils as shown in the map below) and 1541 towns and cities (APC) that must have other missions than to be limited to one stop shop windows for support of certain basic public services other than by relying mainly on the State budget.
Reports prepared by the services of this Department show a negative record of boosting the local economy, taxes being insufficiently recovered, some goods are exploited without compensation and others diverted from their vocation. Local officials in the future must have a vision and visibility for the development of their municipalities, considering the specific features and potential of each and the aspirations of its citizens, officials of governorates and elected officials looking for interest restricted to patronage, and populist discourse without projection into the future.
The collection of local taxes, not being a priority, local authorities have not directed significant funds allocated by the State to the valorisation and the case of multiple resources available to them. For the efficient management of the spaces, it comes to have a snapshot of the current situation. In the Algerian system, as recalled earlier, local authorities are essentially constituted of entities assisted by a State which, in addition to its own prerogatives, was intended to be the single manager of the economy.
Local officials were then only performers of policies and decisions taken at central level and which were reflected at the municipal level by the completion of actions and programmes in arbitration hearing by the central organ of the planning, annual plans and budgets. For example, in addition to highly directional guidance involved already allocated programs, municipalities and governorates were under the close supervision of the central State through the Ministry of the Interior.
The State supported virtually all social policy and management of land and urban planning. Guidelines were thus given at one time to the governorates, for the transfer of land for building and all the housing policy was almost entirely entrusted to the governorates. This situation resulted in a disempowerment of the central authority whilst de-responsibilise governors whom with their sub governors and head of cities were directly confronted with all citizens’ grumbling, which is driven by the needs of housing, quality of life, employment and other.
Anarchy as currently evidenced by growth and disorderly extensions of our cities, and especially the largest of them, can only increase, if we continue to accept that local authorities are still left to themselves to meet, under duress, all social demand for space to build. Because, excessive centralization, promotes an mod-operandi of authoritarian management of public affairs, governance by Decree, i.e. a governance that is needed by the force and authority away from the real needs of the populations and produces the blocking of society.
History clearly shows that if centralization was necessary in a first phase, it quickly reaches its limits and the countries that have developed real decentralisation and not de concentration only, synchronizing local and central governance are those to have succeeded best in their development. A reorganization of local authorities whose base is the city, for a more participative and citizen oriented society would assuming other ways of managing departments in the central State be best in the current entanglement.
It is in this context that local authorities should appear as unifying all initiatives that contribute to the improvement of the territorial space and make the transition from welfare fed communities to locally committed companies and citizens responsible for their own development and marketing of their respective territory. More generally, the implementation of effective decentralization involving the local players, must lead to better real Government as felt as such by the population, the argument of base residing in geographic proximity.
This would mean that there is a local solution to a local problem and that this is necessarily better than a national solution.
The structure that seems most appropriate to create such dynamism, is that of regional Chambers of Commerce that bring together State, public and private enterprise, banks, professional training centres, and universities.
Decentralization means not de concentration
The process of decentralization, a modern State must allow local communities, to take all prerogatives and all means enabling them to ensure full responsibility for management of their respective territories, while preserving the uniqueness of the national policies and strategies which, generally, must transcend local conditions. In addition to the redesign of the status of the local administration, it goes without saying that new prerogatives resulting for the local authority can be exercised only if they are accompanied by a reform of local finances.
Thus, every local Governorate must have a separate budget and a certain autonomy of its use, so that the citizen can judge the capacity of the local administration to manage its territory of residence and to improve their living conditions. At the same time, the State must safeguard its fundamental missions of guarantor of everything that makes the interests of the national community (cohesion and social justice, preservation of public heritage, equal opportunities for the development of all citizens).
Autonomy of the local management may be exercised in respect of policies and strategies that the State implements, both to adjust and guide the economic and social development of the country, to help and organize the equitable development and management of all components of the national space. The full success of this eminently political complex process involves querying the role of the State and its articulation with the market in the future socio – economic strategy, which refers to both local and international mode of governance.
All the mentioned previously actions would involve a reappraisal of the current political, social and economic arrangements that must be based on good governance, on the knowledge economy and on entrepreneurs of wealth creation within a context of the rule of law. The goal is to foster a participatory and citizen society through the restructuring of the party system as well as civil society as a powerful network of mobilization to avoid confrontation direct citizens/security forces. firstname.lastname@example.org
Creating three million jobs would require a growth rate between 2017 and 2020 of a minimum of 7 to 8%. The results of the bodies responsible for employment of the ANDI, the ANSEJ as much as of the NACC, are mixed despite their many allowed benefits. This is the New Government vs. social and budgetary tensions dilemma that the country’s newly appointed Prime Minister has to face up to within the remaining time of the president’s mandate.
However, the growth rate is relatively low in reference to public spending of 3% on average between 2000 and 2016. According to the ONS, quoted by APS, in April 2017, the employed population was estimated at 10.769 million against 10.845 million people in September 2016, registering a negative balance of the 76,000 people where six unemployed on ten on average are long-term unemployed.
Utopias or real socio-economics of Algeria
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on the global economic outlook for Algeria shows that if in 2016, the growth of the real GDP was 4.2%, the situation could significantly deteriorate in 2017 and 2018. Indeed, the IMF expects growth of 1.4% of GDP in 2017 and 2018, the Algerian economy should know a stagnation, with a growth rate of its GDP of only 0.6%.
A direct result of this economic slowdown would be the unemployment rate that should substantially increase over the same period and is estimated at 13.2% in 2018 with an inflationary trend always according to the IMF that we are trying to compensate by creating jobs with very low added value. This is mainly due to the decline in spending in infrastructure, up to now key engine of growth and the business climate.
Similar countries with spending of a 1/3 of that of Algeria have more significant growth rates.
What will happen if the oil price stagnated at 50 – 55 Dollars a barrel or even less at between 40 – 45 dollars? Would the risk of social tensions in the case of dwindling financial resources, while posing no problems for three years be on the increase? But what are the $100 billion of foreign exchange reserves in July 2017, with an output of currency goods-services and capital transfers of $60 billion and inflows of foreign currency of only $29 billion or $32 – 35 billion dollars by end of 2017 if the price of a barrel is maintained between $50 – 55 despite all restrictions on import?
According to various statements of Mr. Ahmed OUYAHIA, prior to his appointment as Prime Minister saying : “If we don’t get over not standing on the economic plan, we risk ending up at the IMF” So what to do?
Contents of the Finance Act 2018?
Would we still hold on, in the Finance Act 2018 for budgetary calculation the $50 dollars a barrel like for 2017’s?
Would we above the regular 11% tax?
Can we have a VAT increase from 7% to 9% for the reduced rate, and 17% to 19% for the higher band even with the risk of inflation and unfair indirect taxes applied to all; direct tax being a sign of a greater citizenship?
Will we restrict all spending: where the capital budget that has been reduced to $22 billion by 2016 as a result of the latest budget cuts as much as the operating budget of about $41 billion that is incompressible unless of a deep public service redesign?
Will we establish a tax of wealth as based on accurate assessment of the distribution of income and the model of consumption by social strata and mastering of the importance of the informal sphere?
Will we to avoid external debt go towards a de-monopolisation program and further privatization with partial or total transfer of ownership of a number of public companies whose financial situation is deteriorating due to workload and management issues where Public Treasury has supported for more than $70 billion dollars in sanitation between 1974 and 2016 or with over 70% returned to the starting block?
Will we go for targeted subsidies where according to the Government about $18 billion was spent transfers in 2016, while revenues in foreign currency during the year fell by $37 billion,?
What will the socio-economic policy be?
Will it always use the Dinar (DZD) skidding to more than DZD127 a Euro as a means of adjustment of the deficit of the balance of payments?
Would the current industrial policy lead the country to debt therefore dependence and to correct it how would a dynamic industrial sector which represents less than 5% of the gross domestic product and 80 / 85% of raw materials of public and private sector coming from overseas and what would without proper analysis, the rush into car assembly plants with a low rate of integration bring?
Will we still keep to that out of date policy from the 1970 – 1980 years at the time of the fourth economic revolution looming between 2020 and 2030 as based on good governance, the economy of knowledge and environmental challenges?
What will a program that is dated, accurate and taking into account of the transformation of the new world of structural reforms to combat the prevailing central and local bureaucracy through to a real decentralization of the financial system onto a social and educational system as hub of the creation of value and the thorny problem of land?
Will we hang on to the same 2009 ownership share rule as applicable to all sectors instead being targeted and thus encouraging FDI in nonhydrocarbon sectors?
What will the proposed import licenses without any strategic vision nor taking into account that the Algerian economy is dominated by the service sector where small trade and services represent 83% of the economic area with dominance of the informal sphere?
How to apply one of the articles of the new Constitution and not differentiate the State sector from that of the private sector for all national and international creation of wealth enterprise by the lifting of all constraints of the business community?
And finally how do we go about organizing an economic and social dialogue so as to carry out reforms with economic and social credible intermediation?
Strategic vision within the new world
All political, social and economic actors are riveted to the presidential deadline of April 2019, but maintaining the status-quo until then could be suicidal. We must as of now envisage through the right strategic vision certain short-term economic policies and not appearances that might increase economic and social tensions and ultimately lead to a further deterioration in the purchasing power of the Algerians.
Any increase in the rate of inflation will involve primary banks interest rates rising, to avoid bankruptcy and discouraging investment. Without structural reforms related to good governance, there may not be genuine development in Algeria with the added risk of returning to the IMF in 2019 – 2020.
There are, for Algeria, opportunities to increase its growth rate because of its substantial potential that despite the crisis would assume a new strategic governance
The major challenge for Algeria would mean to implement operational instruments capable of identification, to anticipate changes in the behaviour of the economic, political and social actors at geostrategic level.
There is a dialectic link between development and security, and because without sustainable development there is necessarily increase of insecurity which has a growing cost. Strategic objective must reconcile modernity and authenticity, economic efficiency and a deep social justice if Algeria wants to avoid its marginalization from within the global societies. The passage of the status of ‘support against the rentier economy’ to that of the rule of law “based on work and intelligence” is a major political gamble since it simply involves a new social contract and a new political contract between the Nation and the State.
The MENA region countries are made of two types of countries, those of oil and gas producers and those that are not. In the first group, countries are ranked according to the size of their gross domestic product, taken as such or as per its capita version. Other means of sizing up economies have been conjured up over time, but most importantly, it was the need to look closer into each economy and try to discern any prevailing trend that caught on. This notion of ranking as proposed by Statista on August 1, 2017 according to the size of hydrocarbons related exports revenues has lately become some sort of normative piece of knowledge from amongst the digital data plethora of today.
Commenting such chart would be irresistible when assessing positions and percent of oil dependency of the various countries not only for the countries themselves but also for all those countries that are linked one way or another to each or to a group of these countries. As a matter of fact, it should be noted that there is no greater linkage of countries as that of those of the MENA region obviously for historical reasons but above all for the region’s interrelated and long established human settlements.
The oil price has slumped by some 50 percent since 2014. This has bad repercussions for states that are highly dependent on revenue from oil exports, of which most are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Nigeria, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are most dependent on oil revenue. As our chart shows, the current price (even though it has recovered somewhat lately) is still far too low for most OPEC members to balance their budgets. Only Iran and Kuwait are in the clear – if the price stayed stable, which is highly unlikely.
A concoction of sinking oil prices and higher costs for production combined with more state expenditures has undermined OPEC countries’ ability to siphon off enough revenue from oil exports. The organization’s market might has also been undermined by proliferation of alternative production methods, such as the exploitation of shale oil in the United States. This means OPEC’s traditionally high ability to steer prices has dwindled.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.