The IMF expects oil prices to average $52 a barrel in 2015, down from $110 a barrel in the first half of 2014, reported Gulf News.
The latest IMF regional economic outlook added that banking and Financial services industry across the oil exporting countries in the Middle East region are not facing any major systemic vulnerabilities due to the fall oil prices.
That being said, asset growth, profitability and asset quality were vulnerable, admitted the same report.
“Although some of GCC countries have large savings from accumulated oil export surpluses of the past, which could be put to use to iron out revenue shortfalls in the short term, for medium- to long-term fiscal sustainability they will be required to make adjustments on both revenue and spending plans,” said Masoud Ahmad, the IMF’s regional director for the Middle East and Central Asia.
According to Trade Arabia, the IMF report also advised that the region’s current circumstances make economic diversification away from oil all the more urgent, as low oil prices are likely to persist.
“Achieving fiscal sustainability over the medium term will be especially challenging given the need to create jobs for the more than 10 million people anticipated to be looking for work by 2020 in the region’s oil-exporting countries,” said Masood Ahmed said at the report’s unveiling in Dubai.
“For the region’s oil exporters, the fall in prices has led to large export revenue losses, amounting to a staggering $360 billion this year alone,” Ahmed told reporters.
“The key to resolving the challenge of absorbing millions of new job-market entrants expected over the next few years lies in accelerating economic diversification by creating incentives for private firms to expand activities that do not depend on government spending or oil,” Ahmed emphasised.
“Lifting economic prospects in a sustainable and inclusive manner will require raising public investment and implementing structural reforms to fuel private sector-led growth, especially in the areas of governance, the business climate, labor markets, and access to finance,” he added.