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Rex Tillerson: US could punish Pakistan if no cooperation

WASHINGTON: The United States warned an angry Pakistan on Tuesday that it could lose its status as
a privileged military ally if it continues giving safe haven to Afghan militant groups.

One day after President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy to force the Taliban to negotiate a
political settlement with the Kabul government, his top diplomat upped the heat on Islamabad.

Trump had warned that Pakistan's support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani extremist network
would have consequences, and secretary of state Rex Tillerson has now spelled these out.

"We have some leverage," Tillerson told reporters, as he fleshed out Trump's speech, "in terms of aid,
their status as a non-NATO alliance partner — all of that can be put on the table."

As one of 16 "Non-NATO Major Allies," Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access
to some advanced US military technology banned from other countries.

This year, the United States has already withheld $350 million in military funding over concerns Pakistan
is not doing enough to fight terror, but the alliance itself was not in question.

Tillerson said Washington wants to work with Pakistan as it expands its own support for Kabul in the
battle against the Taliban, but warned it to close militant safe havens.

Some of Pakistan's critics in Washington have urged Trump to go further, by authorizing US strikes
against militants inside Pakistan or declaring Pakistan a "state sponsor of terror."

Officials have not yet brandished the designation threat, which could lead to severe sanctions and legal
threats to Pakistani officials, but Tillerson did not rule out strikes.

The United States has hit targets within Pakistan before, most famously when Trump's predecessor
Barack Obama ordered US special forces to kill al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden.

"The president has been clear that we are going to attack terrorists wherever they live," Tillerson said.

"We have put people on notice that if you're providing safe haven to terrorists, be warned — we are
going to engage those providing safe haven and ask them to change what they are doing."

And Tillerson added that, aside from the Afghans, Pakistan has more to gain "than any other nation" from
an end to the fighting.

Both Tillerson and Trump also called on Pakistan's long-standing rival and fellow nuclear power India to
become more involved in Afghanistan, an idea that is anathema to Islamabad.

All this drew a hurt response from Pakistan, which has been a US ally since the Cold War, despite
tensions over its rogue nuclear program and clashes with emerging great power India.

Seeking to rebut Trump's "disappointing" allegation that it had harbored "agents of chaos," Pakistan's
foreign ministry re-stated its commitment to fighting terrorism.

"No country in the world has suffered more than Pakistan from the scourge of terrorism, often
perpetrated from outside our borders," it said in a statement.

"It is, therefore disappointing that the US policy statement ignores the enormous sacrifices rendered by
the Pakistani nation in this effort," it continued.

During the 1980s, Pakistan worked with the United States and Saudi Arabia to support Islamist rebels
against what was the then pro-Soviet Afghan regime in Kabul.
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New Trump Afghan policy expected to ramp up pressure on Pak

United States President Donald Trump’s new policy on the war in Afghanistan, scheduled to be
announced late on Monday night, is likely to include a series of measures designed to coerce Pakistan’s
military and intelligence services to abandon their support of the Taliban and its affiliated jihadist
networks, two separate Washington DC-based government sources have told The Indian Express.

Few operational details of the new strategy are expected to be spelt out in the speech, but the sources
said the President could signal his willingness to destroy jihadist infrastructure beyond Afghanistan’s
borders – in practice, by escalating drone strikes in Pakistan’s north-west, as well as special forces raids.

President Trump will outline the policy in a televised speech – only the second of his time in office –
from Fort Myers Base in Virginia to an audience of soldiers and their families.

His speech is also expected to announce a modest increase in troop numbers, and reaffirm its financial
commitment to the Afghan military’s counter-terrorism campaign.

The speech is being watched closely by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s national security advisors, who
have been telling the United States that the fall of the Afghan government will destabilise south and
central Asia.

President Trump’s decision was made at a Friday meeting on Afghanistan, where the hard line
counselled by his National Security Advisor, Lieutenant-General Herbert McMaster, prevailed over more
cautious voices, the sources said. A veteran of the Afghanistan war, McMaster has long argued that the
Taliban cannot be defeated unless Taliban infrastructure inside Pakistan is shut down.

Following a meeting with Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in April, McMaster publicly
chastised the country’s leaders, saying that “the best way to pursue their interests in Afghanistan and
elsewhere is through diplomacy, not through the use of proxies that engage in violence”.

Lisa Curtis, Senior Director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council, was among
those who backed McMaster on Friday, the sources said, arguing that punitive elements were needed to
change Pakistan’s policies on Afghanistan, a source familiar with the discussions said.

Early in August, Curtis had met with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S
Jaishankar, on a low-profile visit to New Delhi, for talks on regional security issues.

The meeting on Friday, the sources said, saw Defence Secretary Jim Mattis lead discussions, presenting
President Trump with a series of options, ranging from the status quo, to plans for an extended,
aggressive commitment in Afghanistan. Plans for imposing a variety of sanctions to punish Pakistan for
supporting the Taliban, and rewards for its cooperation, were also discussed in detail.

“I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous,” Defence Secretary Jim
Mattis said en route to Jordan, where he is scheduled to meet with the country’s King Abdullah.

Friday’s meeting was preceded by a palace coup which saw the exit of President Trump’s chief
strategist, Steve Bannon, a controversial far-right figure who had argued against further commitment to
the war in Afghanistan. Trump’s son-in-law and key advisor Jared Kushner was also absent, in a sign
the President had chosen to lean on processional military and intelligence advice.

President Trump had earlier been expected to provide strategic directions on Afghan policy to the
commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, Gen John Nicholson, by mid-July. Instead, on July
19, the President reportedly sought to sack General Nicholson, demanding to know why the 16-year-old
war had not been won, and sought “out of the box” ideas from his staff.
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Saudi Airlines says no permission yet to land in Qatar

Dubai: Saudi Arabia Airlines Director-General Saleh Al Jasser said that his airline has so far not been
granted permission to land in Qatar, despite submitting the application several days ago.

Last week, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered the land border crossing with Qatar be reopened to help
facilitate the Haj pilgrimage for Qatari pilgrims. He also offered to fly in Qatari pilgrims on Saudi Airlines
at his own expense, as a brotherly gesture to Qatari citizens despite tension with their rulers.

The border had been closed since June 5, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed
diplomatic relations and close land borders with Qatar, over Doha’s support to terrorists and the Muslim
Brotherhood.

Qatari citizens and Gulf officials praised the decision on social media and highlighted that Qatari citizens
were welcome in the country as ‘brothers’.

The decision embarassed Qatar which was trying to portray Saudi Arabia as discriminatory and unfit to
manage Haj operations.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly criticised attempts by countries to politicise Haj.

Qatari royal, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani, had met with Saudi King Salman and his son Crown
Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, to discuss the issue of Haj facilitation last Wednesday.

Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman, released a statement downplaying the meeting,
saying the issues discussed were related to Abdullah’s personal properties in Saudi Arabia.

“With all due respect to Shaikh Mohammad, I did not present anything personal to the king. My aim was
to ease matters for Qatari pilgrims. Visits by Qataris to their relatives in Saudi Arabia have been eased.
Matters have also been eased for property owners,” Shaikh Abdullah wrote on Twitter.

Adding his inputs to the issue, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, took to
Twitter to praise King Salman as an example of a wise and rational man.

“The only way out of the crisis is through Riyadh.”

Meanwhile, WAM reported that  Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani regretted the denial of permission to
transport Qatari pilgrims from Doha on Saudi aircraft.

"My brothers and my children .. I deeply regret that you have been denied transport from Doha by Saudi
planes to perform pilgrimage. I hope the brothers in Qatar will cooperate to facilitate pilgrimage for the
citizens," he tweeted.

Wishing a smooth pilgrimage to those who intend to perform the rites, Al Thani said there are available
opportunities for them to enter Saudi Arabia, either by air or land via Dammam and Ahsa province, WAM
reported.
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman orders Qatar border be reopened to Mecca pilgrims: Reports

The border decision came after Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received an envoy
from Doha, according to a statement from the Saudi News Agency. The king has ordered that Qatari
pilgrims be allowed "to enter Saudi Arabia through the border crossing to do the pilgrimage," it said.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered that the border with Qatar be reopened to allow pilgrims to
carry out their annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, official state media said today. The decision represents
the first step forward since a diplomatic crisis began when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United
Arab Emirates severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5.

The border decision came after the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received an envoy
from Doha, according to a statement from the Saudi News Agency. The king has ordered that Qatari
pilgrims be allowed “to enter Saudi Arabia through the border crossing to do the pilgrimage,” it said. He
even ordered that private jets belonging to Saudi airlines be sent to Doha airport “to bring all Qatari
pilgrims on his expenses”.

The crown prince emphasised the “historical relations between Saudi and Qatari people, and between the
Saudi leadership and the royal family in Qatar”, the statement added.

Qatari authorities last month accused Saudi Arabia of jeopardising the pilgrimage to Mecca by refusing to
guarantee their pilgrims’ safety. Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies shut down air, maritime and land links
with Qatar, and imposed economic sanctions, accusing Doha of supporting “terrorists” and of being too
close to Iran.

Qatar denies the charges and has accused its Gulf neighbours of seeking to strangle its economy. The
tiny emirate with a population of 2.6 million, 80 per cent of them foreigners, ranks as the world’s richest
on a per-capita basis, according to the International Monetary Fund. It holds a staggering $330 billion in
a sovereign wealth fund, with assets heavily invested abroad.
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Iran boosts budget for missiles, Revolutionary Guards

Iran's parliament has overwhelmingly voted to increase spending on Tehran's ballistic missile programme
and the elite Revolutionary Guards in retaliation for new sanctions imposed by the United States.

In a session on Sunday, a total of 240 politicians out of 244 present voted to allocate $520m to develop
the country's missile programme and boost foreign operations of the paramilitary troops, with only one
abstention.

Parliamentarians approved the outlines of the bill to "counter America's terrorist and adventurist actions
in the region" as some chanted "Death to America" after the vote results were announced.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia 'seeks Iraq's help' to mend ties with Iran

The vote came in reaction to legislation passed by the US Congress and signed by US President Donald
Trump in early August to impose new sanctions on Iran over its missile programme.

The sanctions followed Iran successfully testing a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit.

"The Americans should know that this was our first action," said speaker Ali Larijani after announcing
the overwhelming majority vote for the package on Sunday.

Iran denies its missile programme violates a UN resolution that endorsed Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with
world powers and calls upon the Islamic Republic not to conduct activities related to ballistic missiles
designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Tehran says it does not design such missiles.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was sworn in for a second term earlier this month, called the
nuclear deal "a sign of Iran's goodwill on the international stage".

Iran has launched ballistic missiles in tests, something it is allowed to do under the deal, despite American
criticism.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told members of parliament the government and the foreign
ministry backed the bill, which he said "was designed wisely so that it does not violate the nuclear deal
and provide excuses for opposing sides".
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Saudi, Iraq vow stronger commitment to cut oil output

RIYADH: OPEC's top two producers agreed on Thursday (Aug 10) to strengthen their commitment to
production cuts, as the oil cartel reported a collective increase in output last month in a setback for its
deal to pump less.

The pledge from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the first and second largest OPEC producers, came after their oil
ministers met in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih and his Iraqi counterpart Jabbar al-Luaybi also vowed to ensure
coordination of their nations' oil policies, according to the Saudi Press Agency, as the Arab neighbours
seek to upgrade strategic ties.

OPEC states and other oil producers agreed in November to cut output until March 2018, in its long-haul
gambit to erode a world oil glut and boost prices.

But despite the commitment, crude production by OPEC members saw an uptick in July, including by
Saudi Arabia which had championed efforts by the cartel and allied independent producers to extend an
output freeze.

Output from the 14 cartel members hit 32.87 million barrels per day (mbd) last month, OPEC said in its
monthly report on the oil market, up from 32.69 mbd in June.

The inability of some members to cut ouput has raised doubts about OPEC's capacity to enforce the
November deal.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq have suffered huge economic pain because of sliding oil prices.

Luaybi's visit symbolises a growing rapprochement between Riyadh and Baghdad as the kingdom seeks
to increase its influence in Iraqi politics and undercut the say of regional rival Iran.

The minister also met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah to discuss "joint
opportunities in the economic fields and energy in particular", SPA reported.
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U.N. Security Council Imposes Punishing New Sanctions on North Korea

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a
resolution to impose the most punishing sanctions yet against North Korea over its repeated defiance of a
ban on testing missiles and nuclear bombs.

The resolution, intended to press North Korea to renounce its nuclear militarization, could reduce the
isolated country’s already meager annual export revenue by $1 billion, or about a third of its current total.

Ambassador Nikki R. Haley of the United States, which introduced the resolution, said its adoption by all
15 Council members signified what she called “a strong, united step toward holding North Korea
accountable for its behavior.”

Ms. Haley described the new penalties, which the United States painstakingly negotiated with China,
North Korea’s most important trading partner, as “the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in
a generation.” She also said they would give North Korea’s leaders “a taste of the deprivation they have
chosen to inflict on the North Korean people.”

Before she walked into the Security Council chambers for the vote, Ms. Haley stopped and told
reporters, “All this ICBM and nuclear irresponsibility has to stop.”

The measure’s unanimous approval was a diplomatic victory for the Trump administration and partly
reflected growing impatience with North Korea by China, which historically has called relations between
them as “close as lips and teeth.”

President Trump has repeatedly cajoled China to exert more pressure on North Korea over its nuclear
belligerence.

Whether Mr. Trump’s badgering played any role in China’s support for the resolution is unclear. But its
willingness to enforce the resolution’s provisions will be critical to its effectiveness.

China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Liu Jieyi, hinted at his country’s vexation with North Korea in
his Security Council remarks after the vote. He urged the North Korean authorities to “cease taking
actions that might further escalate tensions.”

But Mr. Liu also criticized the United States, calling for the dismantlement of a missile defense system it
has begun installing in South Korea, which China also regards as counterproductive.

Since 2006, North Korea has defied a half-dozen Security Council resolutions over its nuclear and missile
development, which North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has called a necessary, just response to military
threats by the United States and South Korea.

The latest resolution was a direct reaction to two North Korean tests last month of intercontinental
ballistic missiles that appeared capable of reaching the continental United States.

Under the resolution’s provisions, all exports of North Korean coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and
seafood will be prohibited. The resolution also imposes new restrictions on North Korea’s Foreign Trade
Bank and bans the country from increasing the number of workers it sends abroad.
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Islamic Cooperation Organization holds meeting on Jerusalem in Istanbul

ISTANBUL, August 1, 2017 (WAFA) – The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Tuesday
morning held an extraordinary meeting on the recent Israeli escalations in East Jerusalem with the
participation of foreign ministers of member states.

Speaking to Voice of Palestine radio station, Palestinian ambassador to Turkey Faed Mustafa said the
Palestinian side counted on the meeting and hoped that member states would send three main messages
to Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Israel and the international community.

Mustafa explained the Palestinian side hopes member states of the OIC would send a message of support
to Palestinians in East Jerusalem through discussing practical steps to support them and preserve Islamic
holy sites.    

He added member states of OIC were anticipated to demand the Israeli government halts all its measures
and violations of international laws in Jerusalem and affirm that Israel should not tamper with Al-Aqsa
for political and ideological gains.

Regarding the third message, Mustafa explained member states of OIC were expected to generate
mechanisms of coordination that would compel the international community to assume its responsibilities
and help the Palestinian Authority score political achievements.

Mustafa said that the General Consulate of Palestine would be opened Tuesday in Istanbul.

The opening ceremony would be attended by Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, his Turkish counterpart
Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu as well as a host of Turkish officials.
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Pakistan Supreme Court disqualifies Nawaz Sharif for life

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Supreme Court on Friday unanimously disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif for life from his post after an investigative panel found his family's wealth was far above their
earnings in the Panama Papers case.

The top court also ordered criminal cases be opened against Sharif and his family.

The five-judge bench ruled that the Prime Minister had been dishonest to Parliament and the courts and
could not be deemed fit to hold office.

The Attorney General said that the bench disqualified the Prime Minister for life.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who headed the implementation bench, said all material collected by the Joint
Investigation Team would be sent to an accountability court within six weeks.

He said cases should be opened against Maryam Nawaz (Sharif's daughter), Captain Muhammad Safdar
(Maryam's husband), Hassan and Hussain Nawaz (PM Sharif's sons) as well as Prime Minister Sharif
and a judgement should be announced within 30 days.

The five-judge bench -- including Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Gulzar Ahmed, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Ijazul
Ahsan, besides Ejaz Afzal Khan --- announced the much-awaited verdict in Courtroom No. 1 of the
Supreme Court in Islamabad.

The court also urged President Mamnoon Hussain to take charge of the country's affairs.

This is the third time that Nawaz Sharif has been unable to complete his term in office.

It was unclear who will be appointed to take over the post till the next general elections, scheduled for
2018.

The bench also disqualified Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar, who is an Member of the
National Assembly, from office.

Sharif, who became Prime Minister for the third time in 2013, had earlier denied wrongdoing and had
warned that his ouster would destabilise Pakistan at a time when the economy was rebounding after a
decade of political and security chaos. Sharif was the country's 20th Prime Minister.

The son of an industrialist, Sharif saw both of his first two stints in power cut short in the 1990s,
including in a military coup by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

It is notable that not a single Prime Minister in Pakistan has been allowed to complete his or her tenure
since the country's inception 70 years ago.

The political situation in Pakistan has been bumpy ever since 1947, with four democratically elected
governments thrown away by military dictators, one Prime Minister was murdered while another was
hanged by the judiciary, and another dismissed by the Supreme Court.
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China Bound To Be A Future Threat To India: Army Vice Chief

Addressing a joint seminar of the Army's Master General Ordnance and Confederation of Indian
Industry, Lieutenant General Chand also slammed Pakistan for shelling a school.

NEW DELHI:  China is bound to be a threat to India in the years to come, Indian Army's Vice Chief
Sarath Chand said on Tuesday as a stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops continues along the
border in the Sikkim sector.

Addressing a joint seminar of the Army's Master General Ordnance and Confederation of Indian
Industry, Lieutenant General Chand said: "On the North, we have China which has a large landmass,
huge resources and a large standing army....despite having the Himalayas between us, China is bound to
be a threat for us in the years ahead."

He also said that China was racing with the US in militarisation.

"As the second largest economy in the world, it is racing to catch up with the US," he said.

According to latest figures released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the US
remains world's largest spender on defence registering a growth of 1.7 per cent between 2015 and 2016
to $611 billion while China is second on the list spending $215 billion in 2016, an increase of 5.4 percent.

India was fifth largest military spender in the world in 2016 at $55.9 billion, with its military expenditure
growing around 8.5 per cent from the previous year.

The Army Vice Chief also noted that a large amount of China's defence spending remains undeclared.

"A large portion of Chinese defence expenditure remains undeclared... On the west, Pakistan smaller
economy, smaller army... thus they took route of low intensity conflict, which suits China," he said.


Lieutenant General Chand also stressed that India needs to pay more attention to security.

"We have to pay much more attention to security, that's what we are doing now. India, being at the
center of the volatile region is the net security provider," he added.

A stand-off is continuing between Indian and Chinese troops along the border in the Sikkim sector, after
China attempted road construction in Bhutan's territory around mid-June.

Both sides have reinforced troops and are maintaining position along the border, with no signs of a
withdrawal soon.

Lieutenant General Chand also slammed Pakistan for targeting a school building in cross border firing,
adding that India would never do something like that.

"Pakistan shelled schools, it is not something we would do; when we retaliate we assure Pakistani
military is targeted. It is unfortunate to see that they've stooped so low and caused casualty to the
children," he said.
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Saudi Arabia has made significant progress with Vision 2030 : IMF

Citing Saudi Arabia’s bold reform program under Vision 2030 announced in 2016, the IMF has
concluded that non-oil growth in the Kingdom is expected to pick up this year.

The IMF in its latest assessment of the Saudi Arabian economy commended the progress in
implementing the ambitious reform agenda. They emphasized that proper calibration and sequencing of
reforms will be crucial to their success.

The Kingdom’s “non-oil growth is projected to pick up to 1.7 percent in 2017,” it said, while overall real
GDP growth is expected to be close to zero as oil GDP declines in line with Saudi Arabia’s commitments
under the agreement between OPEC and other non-OPEC producers.

But growth is expected to strengthen over the medium-term. It noted that the Saudi economy is adjusting
to the effects of lower oil prices and fiscal consolidation, but that non oil growth is expected to pick up
this year and overall growth is expected to strengthen over the medium term as structural reforms under
the 2030 Vision are implemented.  

Fiscal consolidation  
“The authorities have made considerable progress in initiating the implementation of their ambitious
reform agenda. Fiscal consolidation efforts are beginning to bear fruit, progress with reforms to improve
the business environment are gaining momentum, and a framework to increase the transparency and
accountability of government is largely in place,” according the statement released on Friday based on a
consultation held on July 17, 2017.

ALSO READ: Know the aims of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 privatization program

The IMF statement, however, points out that risks mainly come from uncertainties about future oil
prices. Job growth has weakened, and the unemployment rate among Saudi nationals has increased to
12.3 percent, it noted.

The Kingdom’s fiscal deficit is projected to narrow substantially in the coming years. “It is expected to
decline from 17.2 percent of GDP in 2016 to 9.3 percent of GDP in 2017 and to just under 1 percent of
GDP by 2022.”

The Consumer Price Index has also turned negative in recent months, it noted, after increasing in early
2016 due to higher energy and water prices. “It is, however, expected to increase over the next year due
to the recently introduced excises taxes, further energy price reforms, and the introduction of the VAT at
the beginning of 2018.”

The Executive Directors in their assessment welcomed the direction of the authorities’ fiscal reforms and
agreed that a large, sustained, and well paced fiscal adjustment is needed over the medium term.

Boosting non-oil revenue

Efforts to enhance non oil revenue were commended, and emphasized the importance of establishing an
effective and efficient tax system. They noted the recent implementation of excises on tobacco and
carbonated/energy drinks, and welcomed the commitment to introduce the VAT at the beginning of 2018.

They noted the good progress being made in identifying and removing obstacles to private sector
growth, and welcomed the intensive consultation with the business community. They also welcomed the
authorities’ privatization and public private partnership plans.
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