- The economy is recovering from last year's sharp contraction, helped by higher oil prices and easing of the containment measures.
- Non-oil real GDP is expected to rebound by 12 percent in 2021 while the fiscal and current account balances are expected to improve significantly.
- Higher oil revenues present the opportunity to tackle Iraq's significant vulnerabilities, strengthen resilience, and achieve durable and more inclusive growth. The IMF stands ready to support Iraq toward these ends.
A staff team of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Tokhir Mirzoev held a virtual mission with the Iraqi authorities during November 28 - December 2 to discuss recent economic developments and outlook as well as policy priorities in the period ahead.
At the end of the mission, Mr. Mirzoev issued the following statement:
"The Iraqi economy is recovering from last year's sharp contraction, helped by the increase in oil revenues and easing of the COVID-19 containment measures. In recent weeks, new COVID-19 infections have declined significantly, and the vaccination rate has been gradually improving. Real non-oil GDP is expected to expand by 12 percent in 2021 and oil output is projected to gradually increase in line with the OPEC+ agreements.
"Inflation has reached 7.2 percent in September and is projected to ease in the coming months. The fiscal and external current account balances are expected to improve significantly in 2021 from double-digit deficits in 2020, mainly due to higher oil prices. The recovery is expected to continue in the medium term albeit subject to considerable downside risks, most notably related to the oil market volatility and the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Higher oil revenues present an important opportunity to tackle Iraq's significant underlying vulnerabilities, strengthen resilience to future climate and other challenges, and advance key socio-economic priorities. Achieving these goals will require strengthening public finances, while creating the fiscal space for much-needed investment and social safety nets and promoting private sector development.
"To this end, key priorities include a civil service reform aimed at increasing public sector's efficiency and containing the wage bill, reducing inefficient energy subsidies, diversifying fiscal revenues, stemming losses in the electricity sector, strengthening governance. Improving the coverage and targeting of social assistance will help better protect the most vulnerable. And restructuring large state-owned banks and strengthening their governance will be critical to revitalizing the financial sector and ensuring private sector's access to finance. The IMF stands ready to support Iraq in these endeavors.
"The IMF staff team would like to thank the authorities for candid and productive discussions during this mission."
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