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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
With ECCU economies slowly emerging from the pandemic with scars, the impact of the war in Ukraine is a setback to the nascent recovery. Higher food and energy prices, amid ongoing supply disruptions and intra-regional transportation bottlenecks, are raising inflation, eroding income, lowering output growth, worsening fiscal and external positions, and threatening food and energy security. As a result, inflation is expected to hover over 5½ percent in 2022. Real GDP is projected to grow by 7½ percent in 2022, leaving output still well below the pre-pandemic level. Fiscal deficits are projected to remain sizable, given continued pandemic- and disaster-related spending and temporary support to address rising living costs, thereby keeping gross financing needs and public debt at elevated levels in the near term. The financial system has remained broadly stable so far, with adequate capital and liquidity buffers, but nonperforming loans remain high and could rise further following the expiration of the ECCB’s loan moratoria program. The outlook is subject to large downside risks, primarily from further increases in commodity prices and new COVID variants amid vaccine hesitancy, in addition to the ever-present threat of natural disasters.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The economy has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic with scars that would likely take time to reverse. Supported by the authorities’ policy support, growth rebounded strongly to 10.9 percent in 2021. Spillovers from the war in Ukraine are compounding pandemic challenges by weighing on growth, increasing inflationary pressures and social needs, and straining fiscal balances amid high uncertainty and rising food insecurity concerns. Lower external demand and higher global commodity prices are projected to lower growth to 6 percent in 2022. Headline inflation is projected to rise from 0.8 percent in 2021 to 9.5 percent in 2022, exceeding the central bank’s benchmark level (5 percent). The National Bank of Rwanda (NBR) raised the policy rate by 50 basis points in February 2022. While the near-term outlook is marred by uncertainty from the geopolitical risks that could prolong the spillovers from the war in Ukraine, the medium-term outlook remains favorable, supported by the authorities’ commitment to structural reforms. The change in World Bank financing terms under IDA20 will increase the volume of loans, hence the debt-to-GDP ratio for Rwanda, but given the higher concessionality of the loans, the expected impact on the present value of debt path is marginal.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Cyprus is highly exposed to the fallout from the war in Ukraine through trade with Russia. This new challenge comes against the background of the lingering effects of the pandemic and financial vulnerabilities dating from the 2012–13 crisis. Growth is projected to slow from 5½ percent in 2021 to around 2 percent this year. Recovery will regain momentum in 2023, and is projected to continue in the medium term, supported by investments and structural reforms in the Recovery and Resilience Plan.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
With strong policy support, Finland suffered a relatively mild economic contraction in 2020 followed by a swift recovery in 2021. Medium-term growth prospects are less strong, due to adverse demographics and low productivity growth—trends that precede the pandemic. Public debt has increased due to pandemic-related support and will remain on a rising trajectory in the medium term, largely reflecting permanent spending increases.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
St. Kitts and Nevis entered the Covid-19 pandemic from a position of fiscal strength following nearly a decade of budget surpluses. A significant part of the large CBI revenues was prudently saved, reducing public debt below the regional debt target of 60 percent of GDP and supporting accumulation of large government deposits.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
High frequency estimates suggest a V-shaped recovery with output now poised to return close to 2019 levels already this year, much earlier than expected. Recently COVID-19 case numbers have risen sharply to new highs while vaccinations have also accelerated significantly after a slow start. The recovery has improved the fiscal outlook and the authorities submitted to Parliament a supplementary budget, with GEL 1.2 billion in additional spending roughly equivalent to the expected increase in revenues. The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) has increased the policy rate by 200 basis points to deal with high inflation driven by lagging effects of depreciation, commodity and food price increases, and supply side constraints.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
As other emerging economies reliant on tourism (about 25 percent total contribution of tourism-related industries in GDP and employment), Croatia has been hit hard by the pandemic and two devastating earthquakes, leading the economy to contract by 8.0 percent in 2020. Vaccinations have been rolled out to about 38 percent of the population (end-June 2021). Staff projects growth to bounce back to 5.4 percent in 2021, driven by a rebound in the services sector and investment, aided by fiscal and monetary policies, and bolstered by large EU grants over the medium-term.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Greece entered the pandemic with an unfinished recovery, but the country has demonstrated resilience in facing COVID-19. The economy contracted by 8.2 percent in 2020, better than expected given Greece’s high dependence on tourism and pre-existing vulnerabilities. The government provided among the largest on-budget fiscal stimuli in the euro zone and supervisory and ECB accommodation shielded the banking sector and kept financing conditions highly accommodative. Despite the pandemic, reforms progressed in a number of areas, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted Cyprus’s strong economic growth over the past few years. High dependence on service sectors and strict containment measures led real output to contract by 5.1 percent (yoy) during 2020. Growth is projected to recover to 3 percent in 2021 as the vaccine rollout gathers pace despite the ongoing new wave of infections, but significant downside risks remain, reflecting the high uncertainty of the path of the epidemic.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Andorra, the IMF’s newest member since October 2020, participated in its first Article IV consultation with a commitment to further enhance transparency. Tourism and banking-related services dominate economic activity in the euroized economy. The country enjoys long-standing political stability, a good track-record of fiscal discipline, a gender-balanced work force, and internationally competitive ski resorts. The authorities are managing the pandemic well with universal testing and expanded hospital capacity that kept fatality rates very low despite high case-loads. The testing strategy helped Andorra implement more targeted internal restrictions than in neighboring countries. At the same time, emergency fiscal measures stabilized real incomes and supported firms.