WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved loans to Morocco and Jordan after they were hit by costlier energy bills, economic restraints from regional instability and an escalating euro zone crisis.
The IMF approved a $6.2 billion precautionary line of credit for Morocco over two years, which it said the government would treat as "insurance" in case economic conditions deteriorate and it faced sudden financing needs. The IMF board also approved a $2bn loan to Jordan, announced last month.
Jordan's finances were hurt by regional protests and supply disruptions from Egypt forced it to switch from gas to more expensive oil for power generation.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said Morocco's economic policies have contributed to strong growth, low inflation and a resilient banking sector. But the country has been hard hit by a decline in trade from the euro zone.
"High oil prices have contributed to a build-up of fiscal and external pressures," Lagarde said.
Lagarde said Jordan "is facing external and fiscal challenges stemming largely from exogenous shocks to its energy sector."
"These shocks have put pressure on the external accounts, pushed up the deficits of the central government and the public electricity company, and exposed structural weaknesses in fiscal and energy policies."
Jordan's economic growth slowed to three per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year due to sluggish private sector growth.
Turmoil from the Arab Spring in neighbouring countries including Syria and Egypt have also cast a shadow over investment, while ramped up social spending to quell unrest has further strained public finances.
In Rabat, Morocco said the IMF credit should give comfort to foreign lenders, investors and rating agencies, and allow it to tap international capital markets at favourable borrowing terms.