Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the Conclusion of Her Visit to Jordan and the Regional Conference in AmmanPress Release No. 14/218
May 12, 2014
Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement at the end of her two-day visit to Jordan and the conclusion of the high-level regional conference “Building the Future,” co-hosted by the IMF, the Government of Jordan, and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development1:
“It has been a great pleasure to be here in Jordan on my first visit as Managing Director of the IMF. I had very productive meetings with the Prime Minister of Jordan, Abdallah Ensour, Finance Minister Umayya Toukan, Central Bank Governor Ziad Fariz, and various interlocutors representing Jordanian society, including women and business leaders.
“I also had the privilege of participating in the regional conference, which provided an opportunity for candid dialogue with an impressive group of the Arab world’s top policymakers, academics, civil society organizations and youth on issues that touch the lives of the citizens of this dynamic region.
“At the conference, I was impressed by the liveliness and quality of discussions on the economic opportunities for the Arab countries in transition and their people. Participants from all parts of society debated policies to secure macroeconomic stability, job creation, in particular for the young, a better business climate and more transparency in both the public and private sectors. We concluded that, while every country faces different challenges, a key policy priority is to tackle unemployment, especially among the young.
“In order to re-orient expenditure towards public investment and other priority areas including health, education, and targeted safety nets, public finances-need to be strengthened including reducing deficit. It will be equally important to improve business climates, and strengthen transparency and governance. Successful reform implementation will require a participatory approach involving all sectors of society, and anchoring reforms in compelling, shared visions about the countries’ futures. External partners are called upon to help with advice, financing, and capacity building.
“On a personal level, I was particularly moved by my visit yesterday to Za’atari refugee camp. What I saw there was both heartbreaking and energizing. Za’atari is now home to over 100,000 Syrians who fled the tragic conflict in their country. In neighboring Mafraq city, I visited the Hay Al A’Aleemat School, where both Jordanian and Syrian children study and grow in a vibrant and respectful community. Particularly energizing were the students of the school and the Syrian family from Damascus with whom I had the privilege to visit at the camp.
“We are all grateful to the government of Jordan and the host communities, which, together with the international community and U.N. agencies, especially UNHCR and UNICEF, are providing a sanctuary for these people who left their homes in a war-torn country. I hope refugees will soon be able to return to their homes in their country. In the meantime, I urge the continuation, in fact, the scaling up of international support for them and their host countries.
“In my discussions with the Jordanian authorities, I listened to their views on the refugee crisis and other challenges. I expressed the IMF’s support—through our ongoing Stand-By program—for the efforts that they are making in implementing their national economic reform program. We agreed that generating higher growth and more jobs is critical for Jordan as is protecting the vulnerable segments of the population.
“Ongoing fiscal efforts will make more room for private sector development by returning public debt on a firm downward trend. Policies will focus on structural reforms while restoring the electricity company’s financial health and implementing deep tax reform. I reiterated our commitment to continue to help Jordan and neighboring countries in any way that serves the interests of its people and improves their living standards.
“In conclusion, I would like to express my profound appreciation to the government and people of Jordan for their gracious hospitality.”
1 The conference “Building the Future—Jobs, Growth and Fairness in the Arab World”, held in Amman, Jordan May 11–12, 2014, brought together some 300 participants, including senior policy makers from the Arab world, leading members of the private sector, civil society representatives, academia, media, as well as experts and donors from outside the region.