In TNT 


Baghdad-Al-Sharqiya, March 26: Baghdad witnessed in late hours yesterday a heavy security deployment in implementation of the plan to secure the tripartite summit that will be held between Jordanian King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi in the Iraqi capital

The green walls and the surrounding areas, while security sources reported that the streets that were blocked are Al-Saadoun, Bab Al-Sharqi, and the road leading to Tahrir Square and Karrada, and indicated that the security forces prevented all people from crossing those streets  link

Harambe:  VP: World Bank reports Vietnam’s economy is set to grow 6.6 percent in 2021


The World Bank (WB)’s latest update on East Asia and Pacific economies has highlighted the uneven recovery in the regional economies’ growth, as countries are recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the report, the regional economies began to bounce back in the second half of 2020. However, only Vietnam and China have followed a V-shape recovery path with output surpassing pre-COVID-19 levels.

Vietnam and China are expected to enjoy strong growth in 2021, whereas other economies in the region will grow more gradually, the bank said.

Specifically, China and Vietnam’s economies are expected to grow by 8.1 percent and 6.6 percent this year, respectively, while the rest of the region is forecast to grow by only 4.4 percent.

Most of the other countries have not seen a full-fledged recovery in terms of either output or growth momentum. Economic performance across countries continues to depend on the efficiency with which the COVID-19 pandemic is contained, the ability to take advantage of the revival in international goods trade, and the capacity of governments to provide fiscal and monetary support.

Many economies, especially in the Pacific islands are not expected to reach pre-COVID-19 levels of output until 2022 or later, the bank said.

Countries that cannot fully restore their export sectors, or that rely too heavily on tourism, are going through a tough time to achieve modest growth by 2021, the bank said.

In Thailand and in the Philippines, output is projected to remain below pre-pandemic levels until 2022. Among smaller countries, the recovery is expected to be particularly protracted in tourism dependent Island economies, with growth expected to be negative in about half of the countries.

The report noted that public debt in the region increased on average by more than 7 percent of GDP, as governments committed to fiscal support equal to nearly 10 percent of GDP in 2020.

Growing public debt and widening fiscal deficits will constrain further government spending in the near term.

While rising public debt and fiscal deficits are likely to limit government spending in the coming time, the WB said fiscal policy should play three roles at the same time, including economic relief, recovery assurance and growth promotion.

The WB also stressed that the global tourism industry is not projected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, thereby delaying economic recovery in economies heavily depending on the industry.


Harambe:  The Independent Zimbabwe 2021 prospects: Experts deeply divided


INDUSTRIALISTS and economic experts were yesterday sharply divided over the 2021 economic prospects at a meeting organised by CEO Africa Roundtable (CEOART) to review the first quarter of the year.

While some experts painted a gloomy picture, others said the economy was on a recovery path.

CEOART chairperson Oswell Binha said growth targets set by the government in December 2020 were difficult to achieve due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced government to divert a huge amount of resources to contain the spread of the virus. This could lead to budget overruns.

Industrialists said the Covid-19 pressure may force the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to print more cash to fund government operations, thereby fuelling hyperinflation.

“The Covid-19 pandemic will likely put pressure on the 2021 fiscal position. In my view, the absence of external financing is a setback; we are likely to see overshooting of expenditure, making fiscal consolidation a murky exercise,” Binha said.

He warned that economic volatilities could affect revenue performance, as companies struggle under the harsh economic environment. About 90% of state revenues came from taxes in 2020.

(US5,01 billion) budget be funded? This presents great risk of a potentially huge budget deficit, which could be very inflationary if funded through money creation,” Binha said.

In 2020, Zimbabwe’s economy was affected by blanket lockdowns announced by the government to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Binha said given these scenarios, the 7,4% economic growth projections made by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development was too optimistic.

“The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development paints a picture of an economic boom. However, economic stability is built on the sobriety of policies and reality looking at elimination of populist stances,” he said.

Binha said the government was expected to support production and craft measures to restore confidence.

“We expect to see a movement to ensure the country goes back to a savings culture and money back into the formal banking system,” Binha said.

But Zimbabwe Economic Society vice-president Misheck Ugaro said the economy was on a recovery path.

“I am of the view that our country just needs to deal with confidence because I believe many of the fundamentals have been corrected,” he said.

Ugaro, a banker, argued the 7,4% growth target was achievable, as several interventions stabilised the foreign exchange rate.

We have price and exchange rate stability, but we don’t have growth. We still have structural poverty and high unemployment, so on the one hand, we have stability, but on the other, we have a contracting economy, and increasing poverty. In terms of economics, that is a suboptimal stability. In other words, it is not sustainable,” Ugaro said.

The stability that has been achieved is therefore not at equilibrium with the economy. If you look at the economic policies; they are disinflationary in the sense that they are targeted at reducing inflation and that has been achieved.”

Harambe:  Bloomberg: Indonesia Pledges Reforms Will Ensure Central Bank Independence


Indonesia’s finance minister sought to dispel concerns over the future independence of the country’s central bank, saying proposals to increase the monetary authority’s role in supporting economic recovery will also ensure its autonomy.

A draft omnibus law that will overhaul a raft of financial-sector regulations, including the central bank’s charter, is on parliament’s legislative schedule for this year, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said Wednesday during a virtual forum hosted by Fitch Ratings Inc. that was attended by roughly 900 participants.

While she didn’t provide details of the bill, she emphasized that the government considered Bank Indonesia’s independence key to credible economic policy.

“The president and myself have repeatedly mentioned we will provide independence to Bank Indonesia,” Indrawati said, referring to Indonesian leader Joko Widodo. “That will be secure and that will not be affected.”

A draft of the bill presented earlier this month would introduce significant changes to the central bank, including expanding its responsibilities, creating a supervisory body to oversee its decisions and allowing direct buying of government bonds during times of crisis. It recalls a similar bill tabled last year that was met with market pushback over fears it weakened Bank Indonesia’s autonomy.

Investors will be watching closely as governments in some parts of the world appear to encroach on central bank territory, attempting to make permanent the extraordinary monetary policy support provided during the pandemic. New Zealand and South Korea have been pushing their central banks to expand their mandates, while Turkey ousted its monetary policy chief over disagreements on the interest rate.

Recalibrating Roles

Indrawati sought to strike a middle ground, telling the forum that there was a need to “recalibrate” the relationship among the Finance Ministry, central bank, banking regulator and state deposit insurer to improve “safety nets” for the financial sector.

“BI will have their own role,” she said. “But they will also have to define their role together with the government to try to lift the economy during this extraordinary time, without sacrificing their position, as well as their independence and professionalism.”

The bill’s broader objective is to refresh regulations from the 1970s and 1980s that aren’t equipped to handle disruptive developments like fintech, the finance chief said. The review is “desperately needed and long overdue,” especially as the pandemic exposes weaknesses in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

“Indonesia never wastes a crisis,” she said. “We use that as a trigger to introduce structural reform.”

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