Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Statistics agency for Arab world in works

Arab finance ministers are set to agree today to the creation of a regional equivalent of the euro zone's statistics agency.

Arab finance ministers are set to agree today to the creation of a regional equivalent of the euro zone's statistics agency in hopes of providing greater transparency for attracting the investment the region needs for development.

"We are discussing something very specific this year, on how to build an Arab version of the Eurostat," Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, said yesterday on the eve of the annual meeting of Arab Financial Institutions and fourth meeting for the Council of Arab Ministers in Dubai.

In coordination with the IMF, the group's aim is to create a body that would act as a regional auditor and provide credible data for policymakers and financial institutions.

In the European Union, the Eurostat has authority to demand that public-sector institutions open up their accounts for review.

Despite the growth of local statistics centres in the Arabian Gulf, the vast majority of the wider region's governments are yet to provide frequent credible economic facts and figures.

"This is a realisation, not just by the IMF, but Arab countries themselves that to attract multilateral companies, foreign direct investment, portfolio investment and financial aid, they need to provide more transparent figures to the rest of the world," said Nassib Ghobril, the chief economist at Byblos Bank in Beirut.

"At the same time, for governments to develop proper economic and social policies, they each must have comprehensive, broad-base statistics. There are still many countries in the Arab world that do not provide statistics or have their own local agencies."

Policymakers are also expected to decide how much money their governments will inject into five Arab financial institutions that require more fiscal firepower to meet the needs for economic development and job creation in the region.

The finance ministers are weighing up to a 50 per cent capital increase, the equivalent of US$10 billion (Dh36.73bn), for the Arab Monetary Fund, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, Arab Authority for Agricultural Investments and Development and the Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation.

Shareholders - donor governments - have not increased the capital of Arab financial institutions since they were set up in the mid 1970s, Sheikh Hamdan said.

"Each of these five institutions have produced strategies on what is needed to improve the lives of Arab citizens," he said. "The ministers will decide how much is required to carry out these plans.

Today's expected decision comes two years after the Arab Spring uprisings began, in which demonstrations demanding economic development and social justice toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

"Raising the capital of these multilateral institutions is important because it'll increase the capacity for these organisations to support trade among the Arab countries and to provide additional financing for economies in transition," Mr Ghobril said. "There are many economies currently facing financing challenges."

A capital increase "will support and enable [Arab financial institutions] to expand their works and strengthen the partnership between the public and private sectors," Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal, said in a speech in January at the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Riyadh.

"It will enhance their roles in financing vital projects of Arab strategic dimensions and national developmental projects to meet the growing needs of the goods and services needed by Arab citizens and provide them with more job opportunities," he said.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 A sign points the way to an outdoor market popular with German visitors on the Polish side of the German-Polish border. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

In pictures: A decade since the European Union went east

May 1 will mark 10 years since the European Union expanded east, taking in countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states as new members. And though the border region between Germany and Poland is flourishing with trade and cultural exchange, the open border has also brought a sharp rise in crime.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National