Algeria aims to save $ 20 billion in reforms and reduce the import bill

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ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria, under pressure to curb the impact of a fall in oil and gas revenues on its public finances, is aiming to save $ 20 billion this year through reforms and reducing its import bill, the government said on Monday.

Algerian President Abdel Majid Taboun after swearing in in Algiers on December 19, 2019. Photo: Ramzi Bodina – Reuters.

The OPEC member country has already cut public spending and postponed investment projects planned for 2020 in a few sectors, including the energy sector, which accounts for 60 percent of the state budget and 93 percent of all export revenue.

And the failure to implement reforms aimed at diversifying the economy to reduce dependence on oil and gas means that other sectors of the North African country still need development.

The government said in a statement that a cabinet meeting chaired by President Abdel Majeed Taboun discussed the need for urgent steps to reform the banking system and attract funds from the informal market.

The ministers also discussed reducing the cost of imports through measures including the use of the national fleet to ship imported goods.

It is estimated that Algeria spends $ 45 billion annually on imports of goods, including food, because its domestic production is insufficient to meet the increasing demand of its 44 million population.

The meeting also discussed accelerating a long-delayed plan to launch an Islamic financial sector to provide a new source of funding for the economy.

The government hopes that financial services that comply with Islamic law will attract local savers who do not trust the state banks and often prefer to keep large amounts of money in their homes.

The statement quoted Taboun as saying during the meeting that all these measures will enable Algeria to save about 20 billion dollars before the end of this year.

The statement described the steps discussed as part of a government “economic and social recovery plan” aimed at reducing dependence on the energy sector and opening the economy to investors who are reluctant to participate because of bureaucracy and the absence of incentives.

Wajdi Al-Alfy prepared for the Arab Bulletin





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