Press Release: IMF Macroeconomic Policy Seminar for Parliamentarians from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia

November 30, 2005

A seminar for parliamentarians from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia on macroeconomic policy was hosted by the Parliament of Morocco and organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in collaboration with the Parliament of Morocco, during November 29-30, 2005, in Rabat, Morocco. The seminar was chaired jointly by Mr. Mustapha Hanine, Chair of the Economic and Finance Committee of the Moroccan Parliament, and Mr. Graham Hacche, Deputy Director of the IMF's External Relations Department. Twenty-six parliamentarians from the four Maghreb countries participated, together with staff of the IMF and the World Bank, including Mr. Abdelali Jbili, Assistant Director in the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia Department, and Mr. Ehtisham Ahmad, Advisor in the Fiscal Affairs Department.

The purpose of the seminar was to gain a better mutual understanding among parliamentarians of the Maghreb region and representatives of the IMF on macroeconomic policies in the region and the role of the IMF. This was the first IMF regional seminar for parliamentarians from the Maghreb countries, and the third IMF seminar for parliamentarians in the Middle East and North African region.

Issues discussed included the evolving role of the IMF and its dialogue with legislators; economic performance, prospects, and challenges in the Maghreb countries; fiscal policies and reforms; financial sector reform and integration into the international financial system; policies to improve the business climate; strengthening governance; and global and regional economic integration.

The participants welcomed the outcome of the Conference on Trade Facilitation in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia held in Algiers during November 21-22, in which the ministers from the three countries and the IMF's Managing Director participated. This conference had focused on the main obstacles to trade in the region, and had agreed on actions that are important for greater regional economic integration and trade facilitation in these three countries.

In their review of recent economic performance in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, the seminar participants observed that there has been considerable success in achieving macroeconomic stability, and that growth has benefited from structural reforms in a number of areas. Participants agreed that the main challenge now facing the Maghreb countries is to enhance further their sustainable growth performance in order to reduce unemployment and achieve faster poverty reduction. Participants also agreed that this requires that macroeconomic stability be preserved, and that structural reforms be strengthened. The seminar discussed reform policies in key areas, including public spending and taxation, the financial sector, and policies to improve the business climate and to promote regional and global economic integration. It was noted that, as the Maghreb countries continue to develop their own reform agendas, the IMF will continue to support their efforts through policy advice and technical assistance in the areas of its responsibility and expertise.

The participants agreed that the seminar contributed to a broadening and deepening of mutual understanding of both the policy challenges facing the Maghreb countries and the work of the IMF. They also agreed that the dialogue between the IMF and parliamentarians in the region should continue, in seminars such as this, and also in the context of the IMF's country operations, when appropriate opportunities arise.


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