In Washington DC today, Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf addressed the coordination committee of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and called for an appropriate framework to be put in place for assistance to crisis-stricken countries, such as Kosovo and the recent aggression against it by the Serbs. He urged the two institutions to exert greater efforts to alleviate the negative impacts of the Balkan crisis, containing it to prevent its spread to other countries. Dr. Al-Assaf then briefed the meeting on the efforts being exerted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to provide relief to the Kosovar refugees.
Turning to the global financial crisis affecting developing countries, Dr. Al-Assaf praised the efforts of foreign governments and international organizations to alleviate its impact, and confirmed signs of a breakthrough. He went on to urge the World Bank to coordinate more with the regional banks in order to reduce development costs. He reviewed the impact on developing countries of the drop in prices of basic commodities, and referred to oil prices reaching their lowest level since 1974. He called on the international institutions to give greater attention to the research and analysis aspect of the problem in order to develop a proper mechanism for realizing price stability in basic commodities. He welcomed recent proposals to enhance the initiative aimed at assisting heavily indebted countries, indicating the need to conduct a thorough study on the potential impact of these proposals. He underscored the importance of granting donors enough flexibility to determine how to benefit from their contribution, and stated that world trade should be free in order to strengthen the economies of those countries that are heavily in debt.