Hilary Devine, Adrian Peralta-Alva, Hoda Selim, Preya Sharma, Ludger Wocken, and Luc Eyraud
The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the tension between large development needs in infrastructure and scarce public resources. To alleviate this tension and promote a strong and job-rich recovery from the crisis, Africa needs to mobilize more financing from and to the private sector.
Investment in infrastructure can be a driving force of the economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of shrinking fiscal space. Public-private partnerships (PPP) bring a promise of efficiency when carefully designed and managed, to avoid creating unnecessary fiscal risks. But fiscal illusions prevent an understanding the sources of fiscal risks, which arise in all infrastructure projects, and that in PPPs present specific characteristics that need to be addressed. PPP contracts are also affected by implicit fiscal risks when they are poorly designed, particularly when a government signs a PPP contract for a project with no financial sustainability. This paper reviews the advantages and inconveniences of PPPs, discusses the fiscal illusions affecting them, identifies a diversity of fiscal risks, and presents the essentials of PPP fiscal risk management.
Over the last two decades, the Peruvian government has made great efforts to improve access to health care by significantly augmenting the coverage of the non-contributory public health care system Seguro Integral de Salud (SIS). This expansion has a positive impact on welfare and public health indicators, as it limits the risk of catastrophic health-related costs for previously uninsured individuals and allows for the appropriate treatment of illnesses. However, it also entails some unintended consequences for informality, tax revenues, and GDP, since a few formal agents are paying for a service that the majority of (informal) agents receive for free. In this paper, we use a general equilibrium model calibrated for Peru to simulate the expansion of SIS to quantify the unintended effects. We find that overall welfare increases, but informality rises by 2.7 percent, while tax revenues and output decrease by roughly 0.1 percent. Given the extent of the expansion in eligibility, the economic relevance of these results seems negligible. However, this occurs because the expansion of coverage was mostly funded by reducing the spending per-insured person. In fact, we find larger costs if public spending is increased to improve the quality of service given universal coverage.
The increased likelihood of adverse climate-change-related shocks calls for building resilient infrastructure in the Maldives. Fulfilling these infrastructure needs requires a comprehensive analysis of investment plans, including with respect to their degree of climate resilience, their impact on future economic prospects, and their funding costs and sources. This paper analyzes these challenges, through calibrating a general equilibrium model. The main finding is that there is a significant dividend associated with building resilient infrastructure. Under worsened climate conditions, the cumulative output gain from investing in more resilient technologies increases up to a factor of two. However, given the Maldives’ limited fiscal space, particularly after COVID-19, the international community should also step up cooperation efforts. We also show that it is financially convenient for donors to help build resilience prior to the occurrence of a natural disasters rather than helping finance the reconstruction ex-post.
In this paper, we review the role of the political economy in inclusive growth. We find that political economy forces on the demand and supply side have weakened redistribution over time and contributed to a new wave of populism. We document growing support for a rethink of the social contract to make growth more inclusive and discuss some of its broad elements.
Mauricio Cardenas, Mr. Luca A Ricci, Mr. Jorge Roldos, and Alejandro M. Werner
The fiscal policy response to the COVID-19 shock in most LAC countries was much larger than during the GFC, suggesting fiscal space was not as tight as expected. We argue that it is feasible and desirable, though not without risks, to embark in a more gradual consolidation path than currently envisaged by several countries in the region. Avoiding an early withdrawal of support in 2021 and 2022 is important given that countries are still facing high rates of contagion and deaths, vaccination will take place very slowly, the economic recovery is partial, uncertain and not strong enough to help those most affected by the twin public health and economic crisis. At the center of this discussion is our conviction that fiscal space is not set in stone and it is endogenous to the medium-term targets and commitments undertaken by governments and congresses throughout the region. Also, revisions to fiscal responsibility frameworks should help anchor fiscal sustainability, as well as improve their effectiveness and flexibility. In this context, low-for-long interest rates and easy market access is generating a situation that, in spite of higher debt levels, interest cost on public debt will remain contained in the foreseeable future. Especially if, as argued in this paper, a more gradual fiscal consolidation path is accompanied with stronger commitments and institutional frameworks that ensure debt is put on a credible downward trajectory once the pandemic is under control. Catalyzing these changes, as well as initiating the debate to design other fiscal reforms to strengthen social protection and increase the progressivity of public finances, would require a broad social consensus and political cohesion around several crucial dimensions of public finances: a fiscal pact. On the other hand, if this agenda is neglected the continuation of low growth, social discontent, and political polarization could drive Latin America towards a very dangerous path of institutional and economic decay.
This paper examines the macroeconomic effects of tax changes during fiscal consolidations. We
build a new narrative dataset of tax changes during fiscal consolidation years, containing detailed
information on the expected revenue impact, motivation, and announcement and
implementation dates of nearly 2,500 tax measures across 10 OECD countries. We analyze the
macroeconomic impact of tax changes, distinguishing between tax rate and tax base changes,
and further separating between changes in personal income, corporate income, and value added
tax. Our results suggest that base broadening during fiscal consolidations leads to smaller output
and employment declines compared to rate hikes, even when distinguishing between tax types.
Growth momentum in sub-Saharan Africa remains fragile, marking a break from the rapid expansion witnessed since the turn of the millennium. 2016 was a difficult year for many countries, with regional growth dipping to 1.4 percent—the lowest level of growth in more than two decades. Most oil exporters were in recession, and conditions in other resource-intensive countries remained difficult. Other nonresource-intensive countries however, continued to grow robustly. A modest recovery in growth of about 2.6 percent is expected in 2017, but this falls short of past trends and is too low to put sub-Saharan Africa back on a path of rising living standards. While sub-Saharan Africa remains a region with tremendous growth potential, the deterioration in the overall outlook partly reflects insufficient policy adjustment. In that context, and to reap this potential, strong and sound domestic policy measures are needed to restart the growth engine.