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The three pluses and minuses of the pandemic: IMF

Jihad Azour shares thoughts during an IMF virtual panel

By: Business Today Egypt

Thu, Jan. 14, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated existing trends such as the integration of technology in everyday life, says Jihad Azour, Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He also stated that he sees three pluses and one minus as a result of the pandemic, during an IMF virtual panel discussion entitled “Improving Governance and Fighting Corruption for Inclusive Growth in the Middle East and North Africa”.

The first positive result, the first plus, is that digitalization is showing that the world can accelerate and improve the quality of financial transactions, he added. This has allowed providing services to people in their homes more possible, an issue that people faced in terms of dealing with the state, as well as one of the sources of corruption.

 “Second is the way we use information, as we now have a multiplicity of sources of information we can use, and we can improve our analysis, but also improve our capacity to analyze and audit,” Azour said.

The third plus, he notes, is what the world has in terms of technology currently available, as technology has accelerated on several areas such as mobile money, mobile education, and mobile healthcare services. These are three important service level dimensions for citizens everywhere, he added.

Azour’s one minus for the pandemic has been the inequality of access to new technology, particularly in low-income countries, stating that this could become one of the main injustices in the future.

He adds that one of the priorities moving forward is to ensure that the new wave of enhanced technological improvement and technologies is one that everyone can benefit from; as it is something that will affect people’s ability to complete financial transactions and participate in the technology in the future.