WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (KUNA) -- The IMF Middle East Center for Economics and Finance (CEF) in Kuwait, jointly with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), held Wednesday a high-level symposium on "Inclusive Development in the Arab World: A Call for Action." The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a press release that the panel discussion was chaired and moderated by Dr. Yousef Al-Ebraheem, Economic Advisor at Al-Diwan Al-Amiri.
It included, Dr. Jihad Azour, Director of the IMFآ’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, as the keynote speaker and Dr. Ibrahim Elbadawi, Managing Director of the Economic Research Forum.
It noted that during his introductory remarks and the subsequent discussion, Dr. Al-Ebraheem indicated that the symposium was the eighth high-level forum organized by the CEF jointly with the AFESD, aimed at "stimulating an open debate on the evolving economic challenges faced by policymakers in Kuwait and the wider Arab community." He discussed "the economic and financial sector reforms that are essential to achieve sustained inclusive growth and reduce unemployment in Arab countries, taking into consideration the challenges of widespread conflicts, a refugee crisis and migration crisis, as well as low and volatile oil prices." For his part, Dr. Azour made the case that "now was the time to accelerate reforms to promote higher and more inclusive growth in the Arab World." He said that the region "is facing the pressing need to create jobs and harness the talent of 27 million youth who will enter the labor force in the next five years." He added "it should take advantage of the strengthening global economy, expected to grow at 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2019, fastest pace since 2011." "Noting that the region continues to bear the burden of protracted conflicts and was hit by the 2014 drop in oil prices, Dr. Azour observed that growth has not been strong enough for much of the decade to create jobs for many and lift their living standards," the IMF stressed. This led to "growing frustration about joblessness, poverty and inequality, especially among the youth, women, rural communities, and refugees." Dr. Azour emphasized that "creating the conditions for sustained job-rich growth will require macroeconomic stability supported by prudent fiscal and monetary policies. But countries should also pursue a critical mass of reforms aimed at fostering the private sector, diversifying economies, boosting productivity and investment, and enabling greater inclusion." In addition, he remarked that "there is a need to reform education in order to equip people with knowledge and skills demanded by the private sector competing in todayآ’s global economy," and saw "considerable scope for fiscal policy to support growth and promote opportunity for all." (end) si