- Mauricio Villafuerte, Rolando Ossowski, Theo Thomas, and Paulo Medas
- Published Date:
- April 2008
|All Countries1||Lower Income2||Higher Income2|
|(In percent)||(In percent)|
|Total expenditure and net lending of which primary expenditure||42.0||45.5||51.4||10.8||5.9||8.7||12.5||13.1||10.0|
|of which primary expenditure||37.6||42.7||49.0||12.6||6.3||10.3||13.8||14.9||11.7|
|Wages and salaries||12.2||11.5||12.1||0.6||0.5||1.4||12.0||−0.3||6.2|
|Capital expenditure and net lending5||8.4||10.3||14.6||6.7||4.3||3.4||18.8||10.2||20.5|
|Subsidies and transfers (in percent change in primary expenditure)6||…||…||…||45.1||74.4||45.3||…||43.8||…|
The sustainable fiscal benchmark is based on a standard theoretical approach linked to the permanent income hypothesis (PIH) used to determine a sustainable fiscal policy for oil-producing countries. It is defined as the (permanent) annual non-oil primary deficit derived from government net wealth, which is the present value of projected future oil revenues plus the value of net government financial assets.1 IMF teams have increasingly applied similar analytical tools to oil-producing countries, with various intertemporal welfare criteria and country-specific assumptions. In this paper, a standardized and simple approach to estimate the sustainable benchmark has been applied to the whole sample to facilitate comparability.
Constructing a sustainability benchmark for oil-producing countries inclusive of estimated oil wealth depends on key assumptions in a similar way to the debt sustainability analysis (DSA) for other countries. In oil-producing countries, the analysis makes explicit a number of sensitive intertemporal welfare issues. Similar judgments about intertemporal welfare choices are made in the DSA for other countries, but are usually not made explicit. The following key assumptions were made:
Estimates of proven oil reserves were taken from British Petroleum (2005). This report includes annual series of estimated proven reserves dating back to at least 1980, which can be taken as “real-time” information available for each year. In addition to the discovery or incorporation of new oil reserves and their depletion, changes in reserves also reflect updated estimates.
Oil production during the projection period was assumed to remain constant at the level of the year for which the sustainability exercise was done (i.e., 2000 and 2005) until depletion.
Oil prices during the projection period were assumed to remain constant in real terms at the level observed in each particular year for which the analysis was carried out.
The government take from oil production used in the exercise was the average of the latest three to four years, to smooth out the effect of one-off oil revenue sources.
An interest rate of 3 percent in real terms (the historical average of long-dated U.S. treasury bonds) was used to discount future oil revenue flows.
A lower interest rate in real terms (2 percent) was applied to the estimated net government wealth in 2000 and 2005 to estimate a “sustainable” level of consumption for each of those years (“sustainable” non-oil primary deficits). The 2 percent rate was set as a “middle of the road” scenario between (1) a constant non-oil primary deficit in real terms but declining over time in terms of non-oil GDP (using a real interest rate of 3 percent, i.e., the return on financial risk-free assets) and (2) a constant non-oil primary deficit relative to non-oil GDP (using a real interest rate equivalent to 3 percent minus the longterm growth rate of the non-oil economy). The former approach would imply a more lax fiscal policy in the short run but a tighter one in the future, whereas the latter would require a tighter fiscal policy in the short run relative to option (1). Hence, using a 2 percent rate implies a more gradual adjustment of the non-oil primary deficit relative to non-oil GDP than in (1), but allows a higher deficit in the short run than in (2).2
Other approaches or assumptions could give different results, and therefore this exercise should be seen as a reference scenario for the analysis. There is substantial uncertainty about the appropriate parameters for the oil sector in the short run and more so in the long run. More conservative oil price assumptions would lead to lower estimated sustainable non-oil primary deficits. The opposite would be the case if probable reserves were included in the calculations. In addition, multiple dynamic paths could be designed to be equivalent to the (constant) sustainable benchmark.
The sustainability analysis used in this paper has a “static” dimension in that it focuses on the fiscal position of one specific year at a time. A sustainability gap can be closed in future years in various ways, including increased non-oil revenue, reductions in spending, or changes in the fiscal regime of the oil sector. These factors can only be captured explicitly in a dynamic setting.
The quality of government spending, in particular public investment, can influence growth and future government revenue, and thus fiscal sustainability. Public investment could yield higher returns to the government than investments in financial assets. As shown in Takizawa, Gardner, and Ueda (2004), government spending could exceed the level prescribed by standard PIH-based models in the short term if the economy starts with a capital stock that is below the “steady state level,” and if the impact of government investment on growth exceeds a threshold level. At the same time, spending with significant positive impact on economic growth will improve fiscal sustainability, provided that governments are able to realize the fiscal dividends of growth. Additional revenue that may be required to cover significant depreciation and maintenance costs of the new public capital stock also needs to be taken into account. The financial returns may need to be quite high for the additional spending to have a neutral or positive impact on the government’s cash flow, and therefore on sustainability.3
Sound expenditure management practices, including project design and implementation, are needed to ensure that additional public spending is of high quality, productive, and cost-effective. Research has shown that the quality of policies and institutions has a large influence on the ex post rate of return of public investment and on the rate of growth. In this regard, existing institutional capacity and indices of government effectiveness need to be considered when assessing the potential impact of higher public spending on private investment, growth, and fiscal sustainability. In addition, public investment should be adequately financed to ensure that the projects initiated can be completed and then properly maintained.
Sustainable non-oil primary deficit = r/(1 + r) * government wealth = r/(1 + r) * (present value of oil revenue + financial assets − debt), where r is the real interest rate.
The 2 percent rate can also be justified to reduce vulnerabilities to negative shocks or relatively low real returns on financial assets in most countries.
Domestic fuel subsidies and population aging are examples of other medium- and long-term fiscal issues that should be considered when assessing fiscal sustainability in a dynamic setting.
|Canadian Province of Alberta||FRL (1993, 1995, 1999).||Yes.||OB, D.||Regional government.||Key fiscal objectives have been achieved (elimination of fiscal deficits and net debt). The FRL has been strengthened over time, including requiring balanced budgets (1999) and no net debt (2005).|
|Azerbaijan||Decree on long-run oil revenue management strategy (2004).||NB (consistent with constant real consumption out of oil wealth).||Central government.||Not observed in 2006.|
|Ecuador||FRL (2002, 2005).||Yes.||E, NB, D.||Central government (E, NB) and public sector (debt).||Fiscal outcomes have not been consistent with the expenditure and deficit ceilings. Changes in the FRL (2005) loosened the rules.|
|Equatorial Guinea||Fiscal guidelines.||E.||Central government.||Current expenditures should be limited by the size of non-oil revenue. This rule has not been met in recent years, with current expenditures well above non-oil revenue.|
|Mexico||FRL (2006).||Yes.||OB.||Central government and a few large public enterprises.||Enacted recently.|
|Norway||Fiscal guidelines (2001).||Structural NB.||Central government.||The non-oil deficit was higher than recommended by the guidelines, up to 2006.|
|Timor-Leste||Fiscal guidelines established by Petroleum Fund Law (2005).||NB (consistent with the estimated sustainable permanent income from net wealth). The law allows for flexibility in setting the NB in the budget.||Central government.||Guidelines are followed.|
|Venezuela||Organic Budget Law (1999).||E, CB, D.||Implementation has been postponed.|
|Accumulation Rules||Withdrawal Rules||Investment Policy||Reporting and|
|Algeria||Revenue Regulation Fund (RRF), 2000.||Stabilization.||Residual oil revenue after budget allocation based on benchmark price; exceptional advances by the central bank for debt amortization.||Transfers to budget if hydrocarbon revenue outcome is less than budgeted; debt repayments. No withdrawals allowed if assets fall below US$10 billion.||Asset counterpart of RRF deposits is managed by the central bank together with aggregate foreign reserves.||No formal reporting. Projected and actual position of RRF reported in budget law. No independent audit; control and audit procedures do not differ from those of all revenues.|
|Azerbaijan||State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ), 1999.||Stabilization and saving.||All revenue associated with the post-Soviet oil and gas production fields.||Transfers to the budget to finance selected capital expenditure projects, and direct financing from SOFAZ of specific spending programs.||Investment abroad. Fixed-income instruments currently preferred.||Quarterly and annual reports. Annual reports published on the Web. Subject to external audits by internationally recognized firms.|
|Bahrain, Kingdom of||Reserve Fund for Strategic Projects (RFSP), 2000.||Stabilization.||Residual oil revenue after budget allocation (at US$30/bbl in 2006/07).||Discretionary transfers to the budget.||Investment abroad.|
|Brunei Darussalam||Brunei Investment Agency, 1986.||Saving.||Discretionary.||Discretionary.||Not available.||No formal reporting. Independent audits.|
|General Consolidated Fund (CGF).||Stabilization.||Mostly through budget surpluses.||Discretionary.|
|Chad||Fund for Future Generations (FFG), 1999; abolished in 2006.||Saving for future generations.||10 percent of royalties and dividends after debt service related to pipeline borrowing.||When total oil revenue lower or equal to 10 percent of previous year tax and nontax revenue. Withdrawals could not exceed revenue accrued in previous year.||By legislation, the FFG needs to be held in an offshore account. Investment strategy favored long-term instruments, but was not implemented.|
|Stabilization account to execute oil-financed priority sector spending (the oil budget), 1999.||Stabilization expenditures in priority sector (the oil budget).||Excess of oil revenue relative to the budget (in addition to resources for priority spending).||When actual earmarked oil revenue lower than budgeted by up to 20 percent. For larger gaps, budget must be revised; if this lasts for more than three months, macro framework must be revised.||Quarterly reports by the oil revenue monitoring board covering the execution of priority spending financed by earmarked oil revenue (the oil budget). Published annual audits, annual and ad hoc audits.|
|Ecuador||Savings and contingency fund (FAC), 2005.||Saving and stabilization.||20 percent of revenue from heavy crude oil.||Resources may be used if (1) actual oil revenue is below budgeted level or (2) a national emergency is declared.||Account at central bank. No explicit investment policy.||Quarterly reporting by minister of finance to congress.|
|Oil Stabilization Fund (FEP), 1999.||Stabilization.||Light crude revenue in excess of budgeted amount.||Earmarked spending in the following years.||Account at central bank. No explicit investment policy.|
|Equatorial Guinea||Fund for Future Generations, 2002.||Saving.||0.5 percent of oil revenue||Bank of Central African States (BEAC) deposits. Remuneration rate recently increased to 3.3 percent in early 2007.|
|Special Reserve Fund (SRF),2002.||Saving and stabilization.||Overall surplus (except for money going to FFG).||25 percent in offshore deposits, remuneration rate of 4.75 percent in US$ deposits. The rest held at BEAC, with remuneration rate set at 3.1 percent in early 2007.|
|Gabon||Fund for Future Generations, 1998.||Saving.||If FFG < CFAF 500 billion: 10 percent of oil revenues, 50 percent of oil windfall revenue, and 100 percent of fund receipts. Otherwise, 25 percent of fund’s revenues, 100 percent windfall revenues.||FFG < CFAF 500 billion. No withdrawals permitted. FFG > CFAF 500 billion. 75 percent of revenues generated by the fund are to be transferred to the budget annually.||Transition period: FFG at BEAC, remunerated at 1.6 percent. FFG law allows for investment in international stocks, financial instruments of the highest quality, bank deposits.||During transition period, reporting embedded in regular BEAC reports.|
|Iran, Islamic Rep.||Oil Stabilization Fund (OSF), 2000.||Stabilization.||Residual oil revenue after budget allocation (US$40/ bbl in 2006/07 budget).||Discretionary transfers to budget. Half of the resources can be lent to the private sector in foreign currency at rates close to Libor.||Foreign exchange account at the central bank. Asset counterpart very liquid. Loans in foreign currency to the private sector.|
|Kazakhstan||National Fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NFRK), 2001.||Stabilization and saving.||Old rules: saving, 10 percent of the budget baseline revenue; stabilization, residual oil revenue above the baseline price (US$49/bbl in 2006 budget) and royalties generated by identified companies; privatization receipts; and bonus payments. New rules: extend it to all oil revenue.||Resources can be spent by proposal of the president and approved by parliament. From 2007, all central government oil revenues (from all oil companies) can accrue to NFRK, which can make transfers to the budget as approved by parliament to finance the development program.||Investments abroad, mainly short-term and low-risk securities.||Regular internal reports are not published. A summary of the annual report is made public. Annual external audits not published, but a summary is published.|
|Kuwait||General Reserve Fund, I960.||Stabilization and saving.||Residual budgetary surpluses.||Discretionary transfers to the budget.||Domestic and international financial and real estate markets (Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA)).||Reporting not allowed.|
|Reserve Fund for Future Generations, 1976.||Saving.||10 percent of government revenue.||Discretionary transfers to the budget with parliament approval, to be repaid along with accrued interests.||International capital markets (KIA).||Reporting not allowed.|
|Libya||Oil Reserve Fund (ORF), I99S.||Stabilization and saving.||Oil revenues exceeding those corresponding to the reference oil price (US$26/bbl in 2005) in budget law.||Discretionary transfers to the budget and substantial withdrawals for extrabudgetary spending.||Domestic account at the central bank, and assets abroad as part of Libya’s foreign reserves.|
|Mexico||Oil Stabilization Fund, 2000.||Stabilization and saving.||Duty on hydrocarbons for the fund plus 40 percent of oil revenue in excess of the revenue assumed in the budget, after first taking account of offsetting increases in non-programmable expenditures.||Discretionary transfers to the budget if oil revenues are below budget. However, congress can deplete the fund by majority vote.||Deposits at central bank. Counterpart assets in foreign currency.|
|Norway||Government Petroleum Fund, 1990. From 2006, Government Pension Fund.||Stabilization and saving.||Net central government cash flows from petroleum activities and the return on fund investments.||Discretionary transfers to the budget to finance the non-oil deficit (approved by parliament).||All investment abroad. Portfolio has incorporated more risky assets as it has grown.||Quarterly and annual reports. Quarterly reports from internal audit and annual external audit. All reports are posted on the Internet.|
|Oman||State General Reserve Fund (SRGF), 1980.||Saving.||Since 1998, oil revenue in excess of budgeted amount.||Discretionary transfers to the budget.||Assets largely held abroad.||Quarterly external audits. Not published.|
|Qatar||Stabilization Fund, 2000.||Stabilization.||Residual oil revenue after budget allocation.||Provide short-term loans to the budget in case of a severe decline in oil prices.||Assets invested abroad.|
|State Reserve Fund.||Saving.||Overseas in broad range of instruments, e.g., equities, real estate, bonds.|
|Russian Federation||Oil Stabilization Fund, 2004.||Stabilization.||Oil revenue from resource extraction tax and export tariff on crude oil above reference price. Also fiscal surplus of previous year.||To cover the budget deficit when price for oil is below cutoff price. If balance above 500 billion rubles, excess resources can be used for purposes defined in the budget law.||Account in rubles at central bank. Government is preparing proposals for regulating investment of resources.||The government reports to parliament quarterly and annually.|
|Sudan||Oil saving account (OSA), 2002.||Stabilization.||Revenues arising from oil export proceeds above a benchmark price.||Until 2005, ad hoc.ln 2006, withdrawals are linked to budgetary needs.||Domestic currency account at the central bank||Yes.|
|Timor-Leste||Petroleum Fund, 2005.||Stabilization and saving.||Government oil/gas revenue and the return on fund investments.||Discretionary transfers to the budget to finance the non-oil deficit (approved by parliament).||Initially in U.S.government bonds. To be reviewed after five years of operations.||Quarterly reporting. External auditing by an internationally recognized accounting firm. Reports to be published.|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Interim Revenue Stabilization Fund (IRSF), 2000, and later Heritage and Stabilization Fund, 2007.||Stabilization and saving.||60 percent of oil and gas revenues in excess of budget amounts, usually based on an estimate of the long-term oil price.||Government can tap up to 60 percent of oil and gas net revenue shortfalls, but not exceeding 25 percent of the fund, provided that the shortfall is at least 10 percent of budget revenues.||Deposits at the central bank. Funds invested in foreign assets with a medium- to long-term focus.||Annually audited by auditor general or another auditor authorized by the auditor general.|
|Venezuela, Rep. Bol.||Macroeconomic Stabilization Fund (FEM), 1999,2003, 2005.||Stabilization.||At least 20 percent of previous year’s surplus.||When revenue below three-year average, up to 50 percent of the fund’s balance.||Short-term instruments in foreign currency.||Annual external audits.|
This section provides a more detailed description of the econometric analysis presented in Section IV on the impact of SFIs on the policy response of oil-producing countries to the current oil boom. It describes the methodology and data.
Methodology and Data
The econometric analysis uses panel data to ensure more robust estimates of the impact of SFIs on fiscal outcomes.1 To measure the impact of SFIs on key fiscal variables, a dummy variable is used, which takes the value 1 if a country has an oil fund and/or fiscal rules, and zero otherwise. The analysis looks at the current oil boom and a longer period (1992–2005). The longer period is particularly relevant to assess the impact of the new SFIs, because a number of oil funds and fiscal rules were introduced in the late 1990s or early 2000s.
The methodologies applied in this paper are directed at estimating a robust relationship between fiscal outcomes and fiscal institutions taking into account some standard econometric problems. The key challenges for the econometric analysis are the following:
Countries with relatively large non-oil deficits or difficulties in containing spending may be the ones more likely to introduce SFIs. This could lead to biased estimates, as the SFI would “appear” to cause higher deficits or expenditure growth that are explained by time-invariant country specific-factors (“fixed effects”) not captured in the standard regressions. One methodology used to address the possible estimation bias is to run regressions that correct for fixed effects. The basic intuition is that by looking at the changes in the fiscal variables (instead of levels) the regressions will better capture the impact of the introduction of (or changes in) the institutional variable. In this particular case, the fixed effects regressions will be capturing the impact of introducing an oil fund and/or fiscal rule in a country.2 Nevertheless, some information could be lost by focusing on within-country variation. As such, a specification that incorporates a linear combination of cross-country and within-country variation (random effects regressions) was also tested.3
SFIs could be influenced by the dependent variables (e.g., the fiscal outcomes could lead to changes in the institutions). In general, earlier studies have assumed that variations in economic variables are unlikely to have immediate feedback on institutions—which tend to change slowly over time. Nevertheless, in this study the SFI variable only measures whether an SFI is present, which should minimize the endogeneity problem.4 Nevertheless, an econometric tool that attempts to correct for the possibility of feedback from the dependent variable, developed by Arellano and Bond (1991), is used.
It may be difficult to distinguish the impact of the introduction of SFIs in countries where that overlapped with the beginning of the oil boom. If the “state of the world” changed (with perceived long-lasting increases in oil prices), regressions could show that the SFIs are “causing” increases in the non-oil deficit, even though this increase may be mainly a response to higher oil revenue. However, the regressions compare the impact of SFIs not only over time but also across countries, while controlling for changes in net wealth and oil revenue (which would capture the impact of the oil boom). Furthermore governments did not know, ex ante, to what extent the oil shock was likely to be long lasting, and a gradual adjustment would be expected.
Most of the fiscal and national accounts data were provided by country teams or taken from past staff reports. In addition, a measure of net government wealth was estimated for every year as described in Section II. The analysis uses the International Country Risk Guide (ICRG) indices as proxies for the quality of overall institutions. The econometric analysis uses the index of political risk (PR), a composite index of 12 variables, and some of the individual indices that are included in the PR, including government stability, corruption, law and order, democratic accountability, and bureaucratic quality. These indices are commonly used in the literature, particularly as annual data are available.
The econometric analysis is based on a common specification for panel data (Baltagi, 2005):
with i denoting countries and t denoting time; μi denotes the unob-servable country-specific effect, and ?it denotes the more common disturbance factor. See discussion below on how to address the presence of μi in the panel data regressions.
This is similar to the usual “omitted variables” problem. The fixed effects regressions focus on the within-country variation, correcting for possible bias from unobserved country-specific effects. See Baltagi (2005) for a more technical discussion.
Baltagi (2005) discusses the use of fixed or random effects regressions. Another possibility would be to use event-studies techniques. However, this is not feasible owing to data constraints and difficulties in distinguishing the impact of introducing the institutions from the oil boom using this technique.
This problem is likely to be more relevant if the SFI variable measured “qualitative” aspects of the institution, which could potentially be dependent on fiscal outcomes. See also Fabrizio and Mody (2006).
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