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.
Sanjeev Gupta, Benedict Clements, Kevin Fletcher, and Gabriela Inchauste
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
This paper discusses issues relating to the domestic pricing of petroleum in oil-producing countries. It finds that in most major oil-exporting countries, government policies keep domestic prices below free-market levels, resulting in implicit subsidies that equaled 3.0 percent of GDP, on average, in 1999. Moreover, the paper argues, these petroleum subsidies are inefficient and inequitable-entailing substantial opportunity costs in terms of forgone revenue or productive spending-and also procyclical, complicating macroeconomic management. Nonetheless, the elimination of petroleum subsidies is often politically difficult, although countervailing measures and publicity campaigns can help engender support for reform.