The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper looks at the fiscal cost and distributional impact of implicit fuel price subsidies in Gabon, where fuel prices have remained largely unchanged since 2002. Using estimated implicit import parity prices, we evaluate the total fiscal cost of the subsidies at 3.2 percent of non-oil GDP in 2005-more than total public health expenditures. We also analyze the distribution of the subsidies using household survey data and find that the bulk of the subsidies benefit higher-income households. Finally, we suggest use of a number of existing programs to provide a more targeted and cost-effective means of protecting the real incomes of lower-income households from the effects of energy price increases.