Guinea-Bissau is a fragile state with considerable needs to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and address developmental challenges. After an estimated 1.4 percent of GDP contraction in 2020, a modest recovery of about 3.3 percent is projected for 2021 on the back of higher cashew exports, the gradual lifting of COVID containment measures and a more stable political situation. The outlook is subject to considerable uncertainty. An RCF disbursement of SDR 14.2 million (50 percent of quota) was approved in January to provide urgent financing (35 percent of the external gap in 2021) to support critical spending in health and catalyze additional donor resources. The RCF followed two years of protracted political turmoil and delays in reforms, now undertaken by the new government. Public debt was assessed as sustainable in a forward-looking sense based on the authorities’ commitment to sound policies supported by strong donor engagement and a Fund program. Debt service relief under the CCRT has provided some fiscal space and the country’s participation in the DSSI should also help mobilize additional resources. After the 2021 budget approval within the statutory deadlines, significant and sustained reform efforts are required to meet the WAEMU 3 percent of GDP overall balance criteria by 2025 and bring public debt-to-GDP ratio within 70 percent by end-2026.
Guinea Bissau is a fragile state with a long history of political instability. Poverty is high with about 67 percent of the population living below the poverty line of US$1.90 per day. The economy relies heavily on the production and exports of unprocessed cashew nuts, making most households highly vulnerable to cashew nut price shocks and climate change risks.
A technical assistance (TA) mission on external sector statistics (ESS) visited Guinea-Bissau during February 3 to 7, 2020. The mission was conducted in Bissau at the request of the National Directorate for Guinea-Bissau of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO-DNGB). The mission assisted in improving the quality of ESS. This was the fourth and final mission under the JSA-AFR project for improving ESS in 17 francophone countries of Central and West Africa, financed by the government of Japan and administered by the IMF.
Political instability has limited the development of Guinea-Bissau’s institutional capacity.
For example, tensions between the President and the leadership of the country’s largest political party led to six changes of government between the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections.
Previous IMF capacity development reports, ECF program reviews staff reports, and other
diagnosis undertaken by the World Bank and the European Union have pointed to structural governance weaknesses and proposed corrective measures, in some cases, similar to those highlighted in this report. Regrettably, traction has been limited.