Arab development funds in for 50 percent capital boost: Saudi finance minister

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A plan to boost the capital of Arab development funds by at least 50 percent is to be implemented over the next five years, Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz al-Assaf said today.

He said the increase will help Arab financial institutions such as the Arab Monetary Fund, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation and Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa achieve their goals.

“Every institution has a particular goal,” al-Assaf said.

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia unveiled in January an initiative to raise the capital of Arab financial institutions to help meet growing demand for funding regional development projects, especially in poor Arab states.

The initiative, announced in January during the third Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Riyadh, was part of the agenda during an annual meeting of finance ministers held today in Dubai.

Speaking exclusively to Al Arabiya, al-Assaf said the capital boost will likely be implemented in several stages spanning five years or more.

“In this meeting we will discuss the ideal way to implement the decision of the Arab summit, which is based on the King Abdullah’s initiative," he said.

Al-Assaf did not specify the value of the anticipated capital boost but said both financial reserves of financial institutions and fresh money will be used.

The interview with al-Assaf was with Al Arabiya’s business presenter Nadine Hani, and aired today. It can be viewed in Arabic here.

Finance ministers from across the region gathered today in Dubai, as the global economic downturn and waves of protests across the Arab world continue to be felt in the region.

Qatar’s Finance and Economy Minister Youssef Kamal said the country’s government spending is expected to stay at about this year's level until 2017, after which it could drop.

Oman’s finance minister signaled spending restraint, saying that that budget policy would become more conservative.