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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis is hitting ECCU economies hard. Tourism receipts (accounting for nearly 40 percent of GDP) have dried up, as tourist arrivals have come to a grinding halt. The authorities successfully contained the spread of the virus at the onset of the pandemic by largely closing the borders, but a reopening of the economies since the summer has led to a surge in COVID cases. The ECCU economy is projected to contract by 16 percent in 2020 and by a further near ½ percent in 2021. Fiscal positions have deteriorated sharply, and public debt is projected to reach near 90 percent of GDP in 2021 and remain at an elevated level for years to come. Headline indicators suggest the financial system is relatively sound with ample liquidity buffers, but nonperforming loans are expected to rise significantly. The outlook is clouded by exceptionally high risks, including from the uncertainty concerning the evolution of the pandemic.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

1. Grenada’s economy grew strongly prior to the COVID-19 shock, supported by the implementation of important reforms and favorable external conditions. Real GDP growth averaged 4.5 percent during 2014-19, driven by agriculture, tourism, and construction, and spillovers from the long U.S. expansion. The successful implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility Framework (FRF) helped address fiscal imbalances, boosted confidence, and underpinned an impressive reduction in public debt. An updated tax incentives regime helped attract foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. Although still high, the poverty rate fell to 25 percent (from 38 percent in 2008) and unemployment declined to 15.4 percent in 2019.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Second Reviews Under the Stand-by Arrangement and the Arrangement Under the Standby Credit Facility, Requests for Augmentation and Rephasing of Access, and Modification of Performance Criteria-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Honduras

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. Asia and Pacific Dept
The COVID-19 pandemic and related containment measures have put severe strains on the economy. The economic policy response has been strong and generally appropriate, helping counter the negative effects of the pandemic. Nevertheless, as the international borders remain shut, the economic contraction is likely to deepen in FY2021. A slow recovery is expected for FY2022 driven by a gradual border reopening. The FSM is facing significant medium-term uncertainty, owing to the possible expiration of grants and other assistance provided under the Compact Agreement with the United States. The FSM is also highly vulnerable to climate change-induced natural disasters.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
A further deterioration of the global environment and a deepening of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened the macroeconomic outlook significantly, with growth now projected to be negative in 2020. As a result, urgent balance of payments needs arising from the pandemic are now estimated at 4.2 percent of GDP (compared to 1.8 percent), and the authorities have requested an additional disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) of 50 percent of quota (SDR 122.2 million) under the “exogenous shock” window of the RCF. This follows Board approval on April 3, 2020 of the authorities’ request for 50 percent of quota, which took place before the annual access of the RCF was doubled to 100 percent of quota on April 6, 2020. This additional request, if approved, will bring total disbursements under the RCF to 100 percent of quota in 2020. The authorities have also requested temporary debt servicing relief under the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, supported by the G-20 and Paris Club.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper discusses El Salvador’s IMF Staff report on Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RCI). This assistance is expected to help El Salvador direct funds swiftly to the country’s most affected sectors, including the healthcare system. El Salvador has adopted strict measures to prevent and contain the pandemic since early February—even before the first case was diagnosed—including travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine for exposed citizens, suspension of nonessential public and private sector operations, and a nationwide shelter-in-place order. The authorities’ emergency response also comprises measures to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic on the population, including through targeted cash transfers to vulnerable households and tax relief in the most affected economic sectors. IMF financing will help preserve fiscal space and catalyze significant funding from other multilateral institutions. The IMF continues to closely monitor El Salvador’s situation and stands ready to provide policy advice and further support as needed.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper presents Paraguay’s Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). In March 2020, Paraguay was hit by the Covid-19 epidemic, which has created fiscal and balance of payments needs. The authorities’ policy response to the epidemic has been timely, but limited access to financing and a weakened fiscal position constrain the ability to pursue a deeper emergency response. The Paraguayan authorities are requesting financial assistance under the IMF’s RFI to address the urgent balance of payments needs associated with the Covid-19 epidemic. Given the urgency of their request, there is no time to put in place a full-fledged upper credit tranche program, and the authorities are of the view that they can make suitable adjustments to manage their medium-term balance of payments challenges. In order to prevent the emergence of permanently high deficits after the crisis, Paraguay should return to the deficit ceiling under the Fiscal Responsibility Law. The exchange rate should continue to function as shock absorber, and monetary policy should focus on inflation targeting.