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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with Montenegro highlights that while the implementation of large publicly financed infrastructure projects has added economic growth, the accompanying use of fiscal resources has contributed to a large increase in government debt including guarantees, which reached 79 percent of gross domestic product in 2018. Despite the recent intervention in two non-systemic domestic banks, the overall banking sector exhibits improving asset quality, strong credit growth, high liquidity, and is well capitalized. Efforts to improve banking and Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) supervision are paramount. The emphasis should be a shift to risk-based tools for supervision in both off-site and on-site functions, and the establishment of a stronger supervisory structure within the central bank. The main priorities are reduction of the labor tax wedge and implementation of the new labor law that aims to increase labor market flexibility. Future decisions on the minimum wage should consider a broad set of indicators and require careful analyses of the impact of past increases.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that Montenegro’s economy is growing strongly, boosted by the implementation of large investment projects, including the construction of the Bar-Boljare highway. Growth should continue over the medium term, albeit at a more moderate pace as highway construction ends. The IMF staff projects the economy to expand by 3 percent in 2018 and 2.5 percent in 2019, with fiscal consolidation also acting as a moderate drag on growth. Although the implementation of large publicly financed infrastructure projects has added to economic growth, the accompanying use of fiscal resources has contributed to a large increase in government debt. Economic growth should remain strong in 2018, notwithstanding fiscal consolidation, and maintain momentum over the medium term.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that Montenegro’s economy continues to grow at a moderate pace. The growth should continue over the medium term, boosted by the implementation of large investment projects, including the construction of the Bar–Boljare Highway. The IMF staff projects the economy to expand by 3 percent in 2017 and 2.75 percent in 2018, with planned fiscal consolidation acting as a moderate drag on growth. Conditions in the banking sector continue to strengthen, with improving asset quality and recovering credit growth. Nonperforming loans, however, remain elevated, and the sector appears to be over-banked, presenting a challenge for bank profitability.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

Strong growth this year looks set to continue into the medium term. The authorities are seeking to accelerate growth and development, mainly through new infrastructure projects, but also with fiscal incentives. Although this growth strategy can bring substantial gains, it also poses sizeable risks, notably to public finances, and also in terms of the allocation of capital and financial stability. Gross debt has increased substantially over the past year and looks likely to increase significantly, to 80 percent of GDP. Staff recommends immediate and durable fiscal consolidation measures to limit risks to the public finances and to ensure favorable conditions for funding, particularly to the extent that further infrastructure projects would require additional public debt. Fiscal consolidation is also important for improving external balance, especially as the economy lacks independent monetary policy. A credible strategy to safeguard the health of the public finances would address longstanding problems with public expenditures, such as the very high level of spending on pensions and public sector wages. Measures should be supported by strengthening the fiscal framework and public financial management.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

KEY ISSUESContext: Moderate growth is continuing; however credit and wage growth are weak.The level of nonperforming loans (NPLs) remains high and public debt has risen sharplyin recent years.Fiscal policy: Medium-term funding needs to roll over existing debt and to fund budgetdeficits are large. A new highway, budgeted to cost about one quarter of GDP, will cause deficits to widen and add to public debt. The draft 2015 budget shows appropriate restraint on other spending, but a long period of strong fiscal discipline will be needed to manage fiscal risks. Laying out clear long-term plans for managing the public finances would boost credibility and reduce risks to market access. Fundamental expenditure reform, especially of the pension system and the public sector wage bill, would be an essential part of such plans.Financial sector: The banking system’s liquidity appears comfortable; however, profitability is low and lending spreads are high. Regulatory provisioning is set higher than that reported under international accounting standards, but a wide range of provisioning levels across banks and weak incentives to take losses remain concerns. A more transparent and comprehensive reporting environment would be beneficial.Reforms to ensure better enforcement of contracts and collateral would help bring down structural lending risk premia.Structural reform: Higher levels of labor participation and employment are needed to boost potential growth and safeguard the public finances. Ensuring that wages adjust in line with productivity alongside reforms to achieve better employment outcomes and boost productivity would enhance the economy’s ability to respond to macroeconomic shocks, and are even more important in a country that lacks its own currency and with decreasing fiscal buffers.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2013 Article IV Consultation highlights that Montenegro’s recovery from the collapse of the lending boom in 2008 has been slowed by the debt overhang that remains in the private sector. Output contracted in 2012 because of unusually severe winter weather early in the year, as well as a sharp decline in aluminum production as the financial position of the troubled aluminum company (KAP) continued to worsen. Activity picked up in early 2013 as more favorable weather conditions resulted in a sharp increase in hydro-based electricity production. A sustained, multi-year fiscal consolidation effort is needed to reduce the public debt burden to an appropriately low level in the medium term.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

This 2013 Article IV Consultation highlights that Montenegro’s recovery from the collapse of the lending boom in 2008 has been slowed by the debt overhang that remains in the private sector. Output contracted in 2012 because of unusually severe winter weather early in the year, as well as a sharp decline in aluminum production as the financial position of the troubled aluminum company (KAP) continued to worsen. Activity picked up in early 2013 as more favorable weather conditions resulted in a sharp increase in hydro-based electricity production. A sustained, multi-year fiscal consolidation effort is needed to reduce the public debt burden to an appropriately low level in the medium term.

International Monetary Fund
Since its independence in 2006, Montenegro has experienced an economic and financial roller coaster ride. The baseline is predicated on continued improvements in cost competitiveness and productivity-raising foreign direct investment (FDI). Avoiding a relapse into recession will thus require strengthening the health of the banking system and removing impediments to restructuring the economy. Montenegro’s attractiveness to investors will depend on reducing macroeconomic and structural vulnerabilities. The business environment needs to be further improved. Redressing solvency issues and improving liquidity were jointly seen as priority tasks.
International Monetary Fund

Since its independence in 2006, Montenegro has experienced an economic and financial roller coaster ride. The baseline is predicated on continued improvements in cost competitiveness and productivity-raising foreign direct investment (FDI). Avoiding a relapse into recession will thus require strengthening the health of the banking system and removing impediments to restructuring the economy. Montenegro’s attractiveness to investors will depend on reducing macroeconomic and structural vulnerabilities. The business environment needs to be further improved. Redressing solvency issues and improving liquidity were jointly seen as priority tasks.