Kosovo has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite policy support, economic activity is estimated to have fallen 6 percent in 2020 on account of the combined effect of strict domestic containment measures and international travel restrictions. The fiscal deficit increased to 7.7 percent of GDP, given the large fall in tax revenues and the implementation of mitigation and recovery measures of 4.2 percent of GDP. The current account deficit is estimated to have increased to 7.5 percent of GDP mainly due to a large decline in diaspora-related inflows, most notably in tourism. Gross international reserves declined but remain adequate in part due to the purchase under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) in April 2020 and the use of other external financing. Banks have weathered the recession well to date, and the high pre-COVID19 liquidity levels and ample capital buffers bode well for the system’s stability.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that Serbia’s economy has strengthened impressively since the adoption of the economic program supported by the Stand-By Arrangement. Economic growth is expected to reach 3 percent in 2017. The fiscal deficit should narrow to 1.1 percent of GDP—the lowest level since 2005—and public debt is heading down faster than projected. Contrary to expectations, the larger than planned fiscal tightening has been associated with increased growth, reflecting the confidence engendered by decisively tackling the public debt sustainability concerns. Moreover, unemployment is falling sharply, along with the level of banks’ nonperforming loans, while inflation has been maintained at low levels.
This paper discusses Kosovo’s First Review Under the Stand-By Arrangement and Requests for Modification and Waivers of Applicability of Performance Criteria (PC). The program is on track. All end-August 2015 PCs and indicative targets were met by comfortable margins. All structural benchmarks for the first review have been met. More broadly, there is strong ownership of structural reforms in the financial sector and in public procurement. The authorities reaffirmed the targets for the fiscal deficit and bank balances for next year and identified measures to achieve these. The IMF staff support the authorities’ request for completion of the first review.
This staff report on the Republic of Serbia’s Article IV Consultation highlights economic background and policies. The global financial crisis exposed Serbia’s unsustainable growth model and its key vulnerabilities. Robust growth has not taken off, and economic activity is below precrisis levels amid widespread structural rigidities. Serbia’s economy is recovering from recession but faces multiple challenges. The successful launch of Fiat production in 2012 is contributing to growth this year, and inflation is declining. Potential growth is constrained by multiple structural hurdles resulting from unfinished structural reforms. Rebalancing the policy mix and launching a comprehensive package of structural reforms are critical to unlocking Serbia’s growth potential.
Mr. Brian Olden, Mr. Duncan P Last, Mr. Sami Yläoutinen, and Ms. Carla Sateriale
This paper assesses the relative strengths and weaknesses of fiscal institutions in ten Southeastern European countries, using recent benchmarking methodologies developed by FAD. The assessment evaluates each country’s understanding of the scale of the fiscal adjustment challenge, its ability to develop a credible consolidation strategy, and its capacity to implement the strategy. Key institutional arrangements, are generally in place, including top-down budgeting and medium-term budget frameworks. Other institutional arrangements require further attention, including macro-fiscal forecasting, fiscal risk analysis, setting fiscal objectives, presence and role of independent fiscal agencies, and top-down parliamentary approval.
Inflation in Southeastern European (SEE) countries has been comparable with euro area inflation, partly owing to on the one hand, high initial price levels. On the other hand, the exchange rate regime is of paramount importance, including the inflation-targeting regime pursued in Albania. The analysis also explores additional heterogeneity between SEE and other regions. Two fiscal rules—a debt rule and an expenditure rule with a debt brake—are discussed in the context of Albania’s current economic outlook. Both rules will contribute toward enhancing fiscal sustainability in Albania.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the challenges that the Republic of Slovenia will face in the coming years. It examines the efficiency of the Slovene banking sector in the European Union context. The paper analyzes indicators of bank efficiency by comparing performance indicators for banks in Slovenia, the European Monetary Union, and new member states. It presents results from cross-country econometric estimates of banking sector cost efficiency. The paper also discusses results from estimates of cross-country banking sector contestability, and the determinants of efficiency and contestability.
Ms. Rina Bhattacharya, Mr. Benedict J. Clements, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Shamsuddin Tareq, Mr. Alex Segura-Ubiergo, and Mr. Todd D. Mattina
This paper discusses experiences in reestablishing fiscal management in postconflict countries. Building fiscal institutions in postconflict countries essentially entails a three-step process: (1) creating a legal or regulatory framework for fiscal management; (2) establishing or strengthening fiscal authority; and (3) designing appropriate revenue and expenditure policies while simultaneously strengthening revenue administration and public expenditure management. Based on experiences in 14 postconflict countries, the paper reviews the challenges in rebuilding fiscal institutions in these countries, and identifies key priorities in the fiscal area following the cessation of hostilities.
This 2005 Article IV Consultation highlights that macroeconomic imbalances in Serbia and Montenegro widened in 2004, putting at risk some of the impressive earlier achievements. Growth, about 5 percent in nonagriculture since 2002, has been fueled by a surge in domestic demand. Lack of competitive domestic production has led to increased imports and a widening current account deficit. The main policy challenge is to maintain macroeconomic stability while accelerating structural reform. Fiscal policy needs to be tightened substantially, and its flexibility increased by reducing the large share of nondiscretionary spending.
This Selected Economic Issues paper for Bosnia and Herzegovina reports that output, exports, and incomes have increased and inflation has stabilized. New modern banking laws have been passed in both entities, and the banking sector has been almost completely privatized, with the majority of assets now under foreign ownership. The reforms to the central bank and to the banking system have been aimed to secure stability and to build an efficient financial system.