Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Masoud Ahmad: Saudi Economic Reforms are Impressive | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A photographer takes pictures through a glass carrying the International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo during a news conference in Bucharest in a file photo. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

Washington- Masoud Ahmad, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department, told Asharq Al-Awsat that The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) will have economic repercussions but it was still too early to determine them; yet the International Monetary Fund is discussing this topic and a work team is visiting Riyadh to hold talks with Saudi officials.

Ahmad said that “three or four topics will be discussed in the annual meetings currently taking place at the IMF and the World Bank. One of them is the drop of growth levels and the slump of recovery in advanced countries not only in the short-term but for several years to come. The talks will also tackle possible ways to enhance growth averages.”

“Another topic that will be tackled is the way to cope with the low-interest rates and their consequences and how they relate to the banking system profitability and the financial sector management amidst the drop in interest rates. The fourth and most important topic to the Middle East is how to assist countries to adapt with the new reality due to the decline in basic commodity prices, specifically oil,” added Ahmad.

Commenting on the recommendations given by the IMF to Saudi Arabia, he said, “It is an easy task for foreign countries to give orders… the announcement of Saudi reforms and Vision 2030 were an impressive step; all the bold procedures taken by the Kingdom serve … help control public spending.”

Moving to Egypt, Ahmad admitted that it’s not easy for Cairo to achieve stability and implement economic reforms without causing social tension. He saw that a change in the government’s approach towards the poor and rich is a must.

“The government is required to present the reasons behind these strict procedures so that everyone is briefed of their purpose and assumes his role in sharing responsibility. People feel oppressed if they had the sense that not everyone is enduring the burden of reforms on an equal basis,” he concluded.