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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

1. RMI faces several long-standing issues. RMI is a fragile state, located remotely in the Pacific. Its small and dispersed population with high migration rates to the U.S. constrain potential growth. RMI is very vulnerable to climate change because of its low elevation. Sizable budgetary grants under the Compact of Free Association Agreement (COFA) 1 between the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) and the United States (US) will expire in FY232, 3. The loss would be only partially compensated by disbursements from a Compact Trust Fund (CTF) set up for this purpose, and RMI could face substantial budget deficits (“fiscal cliff”) without offsetting policy measures. The US and RMI administrations are currently negotiating a new agreement, but the terms are uncertain.

Hidetaka Nishizawa, Mr. Scott Roger, and Huan Zhang
Pacific island countries (PICs) are vulnerable severe natural disasters, especially cyclones, inflicting large losses on their economies. In the aftermath of disasters, PIC governments face revenue losses and spending pressures to address post-disaster relief and recovery efforts. This paper estimates the effects of severe natural disasters on fiscal revenues and expenditure in PICs. These are combined with information on the frequency of large disasters to calculate the rate of budgetary savings needed to build appropriate fiscal buffers. Fiscal buffers provide self-insurance against natural disaster shocks and facilitate quick disbursement for recovery and relief efforts, and protection of spending on essential services and infrastructure. The estimates can provide a benchmark for policymakers, and should be adjusted to take into account other sources of financing, as well as budget risks from less severe as well as more frequent disasters.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, and Review Department
This Supplement presents an account of the extensive consultations and the results of various analyses that supported the development of “A Strategy for IMF Engagement on Social Spending.”
Mr. Si Guo and Mr. Futoshi Narita
Pacific island countries are exposed to significant risks from natural disasters. As a disaster relief measure, Fiji allowed pre-retirement pension withdrawls in the wake of Cyclone Winston in 2016. Motivated by this policy action, we provide a normative analysis of the use of early pension withdrawals after disasters, by setting up a life-cycle saving model with myopic households facing large natural disaster shocks. The model demonstrates the key trade-off between building up sufficient retirement savings and ensuring the access to savings against natural disaster shocks, and sheds light on welfare implications of early pension withdrawals.
Hoe Ee Khor, Mr. Roger P. Kronenberg, and Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello

Abstract

Pacific island countries face unique challenges to realizing their growth potential and raising living standards. This book discusses ongoing challenges facing Pacific island countries and policy options to address them. Regional cooperation and solutions tailored to their unique challenges, as well as further integration with the Asia and Pacific region will each play a role. With concerted efforts, Pacific island countries can boost potential growth, increase resilience, and improve the welfare of their citizens.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economy of the Marshall Islands is estimated to have expanded by about 0.5 percent in FY2015 (ending September 30), as the fishery sector recovered. Following a moderate inflation of 1.1 percent in FY2014, headline inflation dropped to -2.2 percent in FY2015 amid falling oil and utility prices. The fiscal balance is estimated to have recorded a surplus of about 3 percent of GDP in FY2014-15, owing to record-high fishing license fees. Growth is expected to rise to about 1.5 percent and inflation to about 0.5 percent in FY2016, as the effects of the drought in earlier 2016 are offset by the resumption of infrastructure projects.

Xin Xu, Ahmed El-Ashram, and Judith Gold
Economic Citizenship Programs (ECPs) have recently been proliferating, with large and potentially volatile inflows of investment and fiscal revenues generating significant benefits for small economies, but also posing substantial challenges. This paper discusses recent developments and implications of such programs for fiscal discipline and the real economy, including risks to macroeconomic and financial stability, with a focus on small state economies. It discusses the prudent management of these programs, overviews strategies to minimize risks to various sectors, and addresses potential governance and integrity challenges. The paper proposes a framework for managing inflows and savings from ECPs to contain macroeconomic risks, and it recommends the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) where such revenues are large and persistent.
Ms. Sandra Marcelino and Ms. Ivetta Hakobyan
In 1996, the IMF and the World Bank introduced the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative—a comprehensive debt relief program aimed at reducing the external debt burden of eligible countries to sustainable levels, provided they carry out strong programs of macroeconomic adjustment and structural reforms designed to promote growth and reduce poverty. Now that the HIPC Initiative is nearly completed, this paper investigates whether the initiative managed to spur growth, either directly or indirectly through investment. In contrast to earlier studies, we conclude that there is some evidence of positive effects of the HIPC Initiative on growth. Such evidence suggests that the HIPC Initiative and MDRI have helped HIPC-eligible countries to reach higher growth, but it remains unclear whether this is through higher investment or another channel. Also, the analysis illustrates that it is hard to disentangle pure debt-relief effects from other concurrent factors.
Ms. Shari Boyce, Mr. Sergei Dodzin, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Ms. Rosanne Heller

Abstract

This issue of the Asia & Pacific Small States Monitor focuses on the challenges facing Asia and Pacific small states associated with natural disasters and climate change. Most tourism-oriented economies experienced a robust increase in arrivals, partly reflecting country-specific factors. Among commodity exporters (Bhutan, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste) and other Asia and Pacific small states, growth remains uneven: robust activity in Bhutan was driven mainly by hydropower-related construction activities; Solomon Islands experienced a continuing decline of logging stocks and a short-term disruption of gold production; and Timor-Leste’s ongoing depletion of oil reserves has led to a tighter budget constraint and lower government spending in the non-oil sector.

International Monetary Fund
During the 2012 Review of Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) Eligibility, Executive Directors expressed a number of concerns about the eligibility framework. The Board decided to bring forward the next review of eligibility by one year, to early 2013, in light of these concerns. In particular, Directors called for the review to assess: Possible shortcomings of the gross national income (GNI) per capita criterion in the case of small states, and whether additional or alternative variables should be used to better capture members‘ circumstances, particularly those of small states; as well as further options to enhance the flexibility of the PRGT-eligibility framework to cover small and very small countries; The application of the short-term vulnerabilities criterion for graduation, which can lead to repeated non-graduation of members that meet either the income or the market access criteria for graduation.