ABU DHABI- The UAE participated in the seventh Annual Meeting of Arab Finance Deputies, which was organised by the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) and took place virtually on 19th and 20th January 2022.
The meeting was attended by Arab finance deputies, as well as experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Younis Haji Al Khoori, Under-Secretary of Ministry of Finance (MoF), headed the UAE delegation, which included Abdullah Ahmed Al Obaidly, Director of Relations and International Financial Organisations at MoF; as well as specialists from MoF.
The first day of the meeting deliberated key topics and working papers by the AMF titled ‘Digital Transformation Strategies in Government Financial Markets in Arab Countries’ and ‘Digitisation of Tax Collection in Arab Countries’. That, in addition to the IMF’s paper titled ‘Fostering Private Sector Led Growth in MENA: A New Role for the State’ and a working paper by the World Bank titled ‘How Economic and Health Fault Lines Left the Middle East and North Africa Ill-Prepared to Face COVID-19’.
During the second day, the meeting sought to discuss the experiences of Arab countries in digitising government payments and transfers, as well as publishing public finance statistics. In light of the current developments, Arab Finance Deputies also deliberated the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on fiscal policy and the options available in Arab countries post the pandemic. They also prepared for The Council of Arab Ministers of Finance’s 13th meeting, scheduled to be held in April 2022 in Jeddah.
Al Khoori noted that the meeting serves as an important platform to exchange experiences and experiments and enhance coordination on developments in financial policy and financial and economic reform efforts in Arab countries. He presented the UAE’s experience in digitising government securities markets, and he stated that raising the efficiency of government securities markets portfolio is key to enhance the authorities’ ability to bridge the financing gap.
Al Khoori said, "The UAE is applying unprecedented transformations towards a ‘future economy’ based on promising sectors, foremost of which is virtual and encrypted assets, which has become one of the most attractive modern sectors for global investments. Thanks to the directives of our wise leadership, the UAE is moving forward for the next 50 years with ambitious goals that foresee the future, and establish a culture of excellence in being at the forefront of the world at various levels.
Digital, technical and scientific excellence of the UAE is an essential pillar in its development and economic path." He also highlighted the UAE’s keenness to digitise government payments and transfers as part of its national plans for digital transformation and financial reform, due to the robust infrastructure it offers to facilitate electronic and smart payments, thereby help speeding up payment collection processes.
The MoF Under-Secretary added, "The digital government in the UAE is the government of the future that is based on data, AI and modern technologies, one that adopts the latest technical systems for collection and payment, including converting government service centres to digital platforms, such as electronic payment platforms." While deliberating the IMF’s paper titled ‘Fostering Private Sector Led Growth in MENA: A New Role for the State’, Al Khoori made an inquiry about the state’s dominance over economic activities in neutral-market Arab countries that lack of competition with the private sector.
He said, "We pose two questions: Does the partnership between the public and private sector lead to a reduction in the size of the public sector? And, how can the state promote private sector led growth? Answering these questions will enable a broad reform process for state-owned companies, and a reassessment of the state's role in the economy and a demand to promote state-owned companies’ growth.
This does not mean limiting the role of the state, but rather changing the roles from an active role in the economy to an active role in empowering the private sector." On the World Bank paper, Al Khoori noted that the UAE has proven its ability to overcome crises by applying the latest scientific and practical standards. The country presented a model of high efficiency to be emulated in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, and reaffirmed the quality of the health system and the effectiveness of the precautionary measures the country has taken to confront the pandemic.
Regarding the UAE's experiences in publishing Government Finance Statistics (GFS), he noted that the UAE’s wise government attached great importance to the government financial statistics due to several reasons; foremost of which is strengthening coordination of fiscal and monetary policies and effective strategic planning; as well as preparing medium-term government budgets. That, in addition to improving the country’s rank in global competitiveness indices, ensuring a strong credit rating, and reiterating the country's position on the statistical map.
He said, "At the Ministry of Finance, we are keen to bolster the work system for government finance statistical data by enhancing data quality and expanding coverage and comprehensiveness. This comes as part of our strenuous efforts to raise the level of financial management, support the development process and achieve financial balance and stability in the country." At the end of the meeting, participants discussed fiscal policies to support recovery from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic in Arab countries, and prepared for the upcoming meeting of The Council of Arab Ministers of Finance.
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