ABSTRACTThe question of public debt management for both developed and developing economies has generated an enormous amount of political as well as academic interest. This study examines how governance affects public debt accumulation in the MENA countries during the 1996–2015 period. The six Worldwide Governance indicators (voice and accountability, political stability and the absence of violence/terrorism, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law and control of corruption) were used to measure the quality of governance in these countries. The results show that only three governance indicators support well the hypothesis that poor governance leads to higher accumulation of MENA public debt. Moreover, the estimates suggest a significant indirect impact of bad governance operating via decreased GDP growth. These findings have important implications for policy makers of these countries, which are currently facing major fiscal and external imbalances due to the high cost of war and terrorist attacks, low oil prices and a decline in trade. Sound public debt management represents an urgent task especially that public debt management problems often find their origins in the lack of attention paid by policymakers to the costs of bad governance and weak macroeconomic management.

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