IMF: Public debt in half of Arab countries currently exceeds 90% of GDP

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Sunday warned Arab countries of a rapid rise in public debt due to the continued rise in the budget deficit since the global financial crisis in 2008.

"Unfortunately, the region has not yet fully recovered from the global financial crisis and other major economic upheavals of the past decade," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said at the Fourth Public Finance Forum in Dubai.

Lagarde added that "economic growth has improved among oil-importing countries only, but it is still below pre-crisis levels." Public debt in Arab oil importing countries rose from 64 percent of GDP in 2008 to 85 percent in 2018.

Lagarde stressed that public debt in about half the Arab countries currently exceeds 90% of GDP, noting that "the next economic path of the region is fraught with challenges."

And called on oil-exporting countries to use renewable energy in the coming period in line with the Paris Climate Convention, which provides for reducing emissions harmful to the environment.

Lagarde called on countries in the region to achieve greater transparency, reforms and anti-corruption measures.

Last month, the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for economic growth for Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, and for the Middle East and North Africa region due to falling oil prices, declining production and geopolitical tensions.