This paper discusses issues related to the gas arrears ‘crisis’ in Ukraine. It concludes that the problem, which can be traced to policy distortions, can be contained through an acceleration of structural reforms. The paper examines the nature of the contractual relations between Ukraine and its foreign suppliers; the role of the de facto government guarantee for gas import payments; the process of imposing financial discipline on non-payers; the nature of gas-related subsidy schemes; and the methods used in calculating domestic energy prices. An Appendix derives lessons from the Estonian case--an economy which, despite relatively similar initial conditions, avoided the emergence of energy payment difficulties. This is a Paper on Policy Analysis and Assessment and the author(s) would welcome any comments on the present text. Citations should refer to a Paper on Policy Analysis and Assessment of the International Monetary Fund, mentioning the author(s) and the date of issuance. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Fund.
Mr. Clinton R. Shiells, Mr. John R Dodsworth, and Mr. Paul Henri Mathieu
This paper explores from a regional perspective the distorted nature of trade in energy products within the CIS countries. The persistence of pricing distortions, barter arrangements, and discriminatory access to pipelines, as well as failure to honor contracts, has disrupted and distorted energy exports to non-CIS countries, undermined energy sector reforms, and distorted investment decisions. The paper focuses on cross-border issues as an integral component of the wider problem of inefficient energy use within the CIS. Several policy recommendations are proposed, including measures to foster greater competition, reduce state involvement, and promote regional cooperation.
Mr. Aleh Tsyvinski, Mr. Martin Petri, and Mr. Günther Taube
A decade into the transition, many of the successor states of the former Soviet Union (FSU) continue to use energy sector quasi-fiscal activities (QFAs), especially low energy prices and the toleration of payment arrears, to provide large implicit and untargeted subsidies. These activities disguise the overall size of the government, cause overconsumption and waste, and contribute to macroeconomic imbalances. This paper analyses such activities in FSU countries, with particular emphasis on two case studies (Azerbaijan and Ukraine). The paper's policy conclusions point to the need to increase energy prices, combined with a strengthening of safety nets to protect the poor, better enforcement of payment discipline, and more efforts to achieve fiscal transparency.
Raising living standards continues to be the main challenge facing Guatemala, as a matter of economic success and social cohesion. This paper discusses the spending, financing, and delivery capacity aspects of a viable development strategy for Guatemala couched within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda. Overall, Guatemala faces additional spending of about 8½ percent of GDP in 2030 to attain health, education, and roads, water, and sanitation infrastructure SDGs. While substantial, these cost estimates are commensurate with a well-defined financing strategy encompassing continuing tax administration efforts, broad-based tax reform, scaled-up private sector participation, and greater spending efficiency. Improving delivery capacities is also essential to secure access of those public goods to all Guatemalans, irrespective of their place of residence, ethnic group, or ability to pay.
Following a benchmarking exercise, we estimate the spending required to reach satisfactory progress in the Sustainable Development Goals in the health, education, and infrastructure sectors in Brazil. We find that there is room for savings in education (up to 1.5 percentage point of GDP) and health (up to 2.5 percentage points of GDP) without compromising the quality of services but additional investments for over 3 percent of GDP per year are needed to close large infrastructure gaps in roads, water, and electricity by 2030. Brazil can do more with less, but increasing efficiency of public spending will require substantial reforms.
This paper discusses the rising profile of natural gas in global energy, factors constraining its further development, the gas contracting process, and the absence of a global market, which is analyzed in the context of the economic rent in the gas price and the opaque nature of gas contracts. A proposal for rationalizing the trade to ease these constraints is offered. Gas pricing, and factors driving demand are also analyzed using evidence from the literature. FDI can help to monetize some of the 'stranded' gas reserves, but success would depend on an investor-friendly climate, including appropriate tariff regimes in the domestic markets.
Vitor Gaspar, Mr. David Amaglobeli, Ms. Mercedes Garcia-Escribano, Delphine Prady, and Mauricio Soto
The goal of this paper is to estimate the additional annual spending required for meaningful progress on the SDGs in these areas. Our estimates refer to additional spending in 2030, relative to a baseline of current spending to GDP in these sectors. Toward this end, we apply an innovative costing methodology to a sample of 155 countries: 49 low- income developing countries, 72 emerging market economies, and 34 advanced economies. And we refine the analysis with five country studies: Rwanda, Benin, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Guatemala.