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Egypt, Tunisia to get Billions in Aid

The United States, Qatar and the World Bank are among those pledging billions in aid to Egypt. Tunisia to get help as well.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 5/27/2011, 12:58 PM / Last Update: 5/27/2011, 3:00 PM

The United States, Qatar and the World Bank each pledged to give billions of dollars in aid to Egypt this week, in order to help the country boost its economy following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.

U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to relieve Egypt of $1 billion in debt, and has offered an additional $1 billion in loans to improve infrastructure and create new jobs.

The Wold Bank pledged to provide $4.5 billion over the next 24 months, including at least $1 billion in budget support this year and $1 billion next year “dependent on progress.” The other $2.5 billion will be invested in development projects.

Saudi Arabia has pledged $4 billion in aid, and Qatar is considering projects worth more than $10 billion.

The International Monetary Fund sent a delegation to Cairo this week to discuss the possibility of a loan. Egypt is seeking up to $4 billion from the IMF. Once an IMF agreement is signed, the European Union will decide how much aid to give. EU officials are currently considering giving several hundred million euros.

The G8 is expected to approve a package including billions of dollars in aid and debt swaps.

Tunisia will get $1.5 billion from the World Bank, including budget support and money for investments.

The World Bank said in a statement, “Approximately 50-75 million jobs are needed over the next decade to absorb new labor market entrants and to bring down unemployment” in the Mideast and northern Africa. The World Bank warned, “Only 48 million jobs will be created if countries continue to grow as they did over the past decade.”

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the goal is “to try to stabilize and then modernize the economies of the region.”

The World Bank lowered its economic growth forecast for northern Africa and the Middle East to 3.6% from 5% this week, but has expressed hope that the overthrow of long-term authoritarian rulers in Egypt and Tunisia will lead to economic integration similar to that in eastern Europe in the 1990s.