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 presents a general framework for characterizing the optimal pattern of subsidies for poverty alleviation under budgetary constraints and suggests possible reforms for the existing pattern of subsidies. The government may subsidize or tax goods in order to meet its objectives. The paper introduces the concept of a consumer equilibrium and shows that there are cases of equilibria in which reforms can generate not only fiscal savings but also Pareto improve the welfare of both poor and wealthy consumers.