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International Monetary Fund
The COVID-19 pandemic has created severe disruption in the global financial system, with many emerging market and developing countries (EMDCs) facing liquidity shortages. In the context of intensified demand for liquidity and heightened global uncertainty, staff has revisited the 2017 proposal for a new facility to provide liquidity support to the Fund’s membership. This paper proposes the establishment of a new Short-term Liquidity Line (SLL) as a special facility in the General Resources Account (GRA), based on the key features of the 2017 blueprint.
International Monetary Fund
As use of macroprudential policy tools is growing, the IMF has initiated an annual survey on macroprudential policy with its membership. The resulting new database provides information on policy measures taken by IMF member countries as well as on the institutional arrangements in place to support macroprudential policy. This paper provides detail on the design of the survey and a description of the results from the first edition of the survey, based on responses received from 141 jurisdictions. It reviews institutional arrangements in place across the membership, provides an initial description of the types of measures reported across regions, and describes recent changes in macroprudential policy settings reported by member countries.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Iceland’s government, elected in 2013, is conducting a general review of its tax policy with a view toward making it more efficient and less distortionary.1 To this end, it has targeted VAT reform as a priority to become more reliant on consumption rather than income taxation. The narrow base and wide gap between the very high 25.5 percent main VAT rate and lower rate of 7 percent distort economic behavior and encourage tax arbitrage, evasion and lobbying. The efficiency of the Icelandic VAT is thus currently well below the European and OECD averages. To address this situation, the government plans in the near term to broaden the base by eliminating exemptions, raising the lower rate, and reducing the top rate. In the medium term, the government targets a single-rate system. To offset the potentially inflationary effects of VAT reform and reduce price distortions, the government is considering repealing the commodity tax and reviewing the trade regime for agriculture. It may also seek to increase social benefits for low-income households most affected by the VAT increases. These measures are all in accord with recommendations made by two previous IMF missions in 2010 and 2011. This mission reiterates its previous recommendations that Iceland should in the near term: (1) eliminate exemptions at least for tourism, transport, sports and culture; (2) limit VAT refunds to local government to services that could be outsourced; (3) double the lower rate to 14 percent; (4) reduce the top rate as revenue permits, depending on base broadening; and (5) in the longer term, move to a single VAT rate of about 21 percent. In addition, this report makes the following major recommendations: • Consider at least doubling the VAT threshold to ISK 2,000,000 (about USD 17,850 or EUR 12,900). A higher threshold will ease administration, allowing limited RSK resources to be focused on the large taxpayers who generate most VAT revenue. • Fully tax all sales and leasing of commercial buildings, as well as first sales of new residential buildings. While materials and construction activities are subject to VAT, sale of buildings has been exempt. This has created pressure for special refund schemes for builders to recoup their input VAT. Taxing commercial buildings and rent will remove this necessity and prevent cascading, while taxing first residential sales will broaden the VAT base to include housing consumption. • Eliminate special VAT refund schemes for buses, and domestic boats and aircraft, as well as CO2 tax refunds for rental car imports. These schemes have been encouraged by the exemption of passenger transport, and by the anomalous taxation of car rental services at the top rate. Taxing transportation will remove the need for these accommodations and level the playing field for car rental companies. • Repeal the commodity tax on building products, appliances and electronics. This will help offset the one-off inflationary effects of VAT reform and remove price distortions on these goods, which having neither inelastic demand nor negative externalities do not meet the criteria for special excise taxation. • If the sugar tax portion of the commodity tax is retained, conduct a study to ensure that the price increase it imposes on sweetened products is sufficient to discourage their consumption. Alternatively, repeal the sugar tax and move sweetened products to the top VAT rate.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses Cyprus’ Second Review Under the Extended Arrangement Under the Extended Fund Facility and Request for Modification of Performance Criteria. The program is on track. Fiscal performance continued to exceed targets comfortably, and the 2014 budget is more ambitious than envisaged at program approval. All structural benchmarks were met, albeit with a modest delay in one case. Significant progress has been made in restructuring and recapitalizing the banking sector, including with foreign participation in the share capital of one domestic bank. Fiscal structural reforms are proceeding, but strong resolve is needed to kick start the privatization process.
International Monetary Fund
This paper outlines reforms to increase the effectiveness of the Fund’s capacity development (CD) program. It builds on the 2008 and 2011 reviews of technical assistance (TA) and the 2008 review of training, which set in motion important changes to make CD more valuable to member countries. Reforms will involve Board endorsement in a few areas and implementation by staff of related next steps.
Ms. Cemile Sancak, Jing Xing, and Ricardo Velloso
This paper examines tax revenue during the business cycle by estimating the relationship between tax revenue efficiency and the output gap. We find a positive and significant relationship between these variables; results are consistent for quarterly and annual data, and across advanced and developing economies. We also find that a worsening (improvement) in the VAT C-efficiency is driven by shifts in consumption patterns and changes in tax evasion during contractions (expansions). A key implication is that, particularly during major economic booms and downturns, policy makers should look beyond simple, long-run revenue elasticities and incorporate into their analysis the effects of the economic cycle on tax revenue efficiency.
International Monetary Fund
This paper examines Iceland’s Observance of Standards and Codes on the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism. Iceland’s legal requirements in place to combat money laundering and terrorist financing are generally comprehensive. The penalties for money laundering appear low, and the number of money laundering prosecutions and convictions has decreased. The terrorist financing offence is generally broad, although it does not fully cover the financing of acts listed in the Terrorist Financing Convention.