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International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with the Kingdom of Eswatini highlights that the financial system remains sound, although vulnerabilities are rising. Hence, bank supervision should be intensified, the early intervention regime strengthened, and plans to relax single borrower concentration regulations suspended. The paper explains that the authorities have recently taken some policy actions toward stabilizing the economy. However, reflecting expansionary spending policies and declining Southern African Customs Union revenue, public debt is still rising, domestic arrears have accumulated, and international reserves have fallen below adequate levels. Supply side and governance reforms are needed to support private investment and strengthen competitiveness. Reforms should reduce vulnerabilities to state-capture and other forms of corruption, streamline business regulations and regulatory requirements, reduce high electricity and telecommunications costs, contain wage growth, and address shortages of skilled workers. A credible medium-term fiscal adjustment plan, starting with measures to reduce next year’s fiscal deficit, is needed to bring the economy on a sustainable path. Policies should combine expenditure reductions and revenue increases that enhance long-term growth prospects. Expanding and better targeting cash transfers would help protect the poor.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with South Africa discusses that subdued private investment and exports, and increased uncertainty have depressed growth and worsened social indicators. State-owned enterprises’ (SOEs) risks are materializing, triggering government bailouts of Eskom and administrative intervention in other entities. High fiscal deficits have boosted debt. Nonresident investors are shedding equities and local currency bonds but showing appetite for foreign currency sovereign bonds amid supportive global financing conditions. The external position is moderately weaker than implied by fundamentals and desirable policies. Inflation has slowed to around the mid-point of the target band, aided by one-off factors, but inflation expectations are higher. Banks are sound, albeit with pockets of vulnerabilities. In the absence of fiscal space, a gradual and growth-friendly fiscal consolidation and increased spending efficiency are needed. The authorities should establish a credible debt anchor to stabilize debt in the medium term. Given the structural nature of the growth slowdown, the consolidation should be accompanied by reforms that reduce the cost of doing business and boost private investment.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.

Abstract

This report emphasizes the environmental, fiscal, economic, and administrative case for using carbon taxes, or similar pricing schemes such as emission trading systems, to implement climate mitigation strategies. It provides a quantitative framework for understanding their effects and trade-offs with other instruments and applies it to the largest advanced and emerging economies. Alternative approaches, like “feebates” to impose fees on high polluters and give rebates to cleaner energy users, can play an important role when higher energy prices are difficult politically. At the international level, the report calls for a carbon price floor arrangement among large emitters, designed flexibly to accommodate equity considerations and constraints on national policies. The report estimates the consequences of carbon pricing and redistribution of its revenues for inequality across households. Strategies for enhancing the political acceptability of carbon pricing are discussed, along with supporting measures to promote clean technology investments.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
Reflecting slow progress on reforms, weakened governance, and elevated policy uncertainty, growth remains subdued. With the economy unable to create enough jobs, the quest for inclusive growth has been elusive, making South Africa one of the most unequal societies. Growing government spending has led to a doubling of public debt in the last decade. Credible monetary policy has kept inflation expectations anchored, albeit at near the top of the target band. The current account deficit remains financed by potentially volatile portfolio inflows. The new administration’s immediate priority has focused on improving governance and restoring confidence.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.

Abstract

The IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Code is the international standard for disclosure of information about public finances and is the centerpiece of the global architecture on fiscal transparency. The Fiscal Transparency Handbook (2018) provides detailed guidance on the implementation of the new Fiscal Transparency Code, which was approved by the IMF Board in 2014. It explains why each principle of the Code is important and describes current trends in implementation of the principles, noting relevant international standards as well. Selected country examples are also provided.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that high levels of unemployment, poverty, and inequality persist in Lesotho despite its faster growth compared with regional peers over the last decade. GDP growth is expected to be about 3 percent in FY2017/18, below the average of 4.1 percent for the past decade, and driven by mining and agriculture. Over the next three years, GDP growth is expected to be led by mining and construction related to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II. A steep decline in Southern African Customs Union transfers, a major source of government revenue, will result in a fiscal deficit that is likely to exceed 6 percent of GDP for the second year.