Comoros faces significant economic and political challenges. The fiscal priorities are to restore revenues and curtail spending so that domestic arrears can be reduced and the program brought back on track. Clearing external arrears is a key hurdle to debt sustainability. Improvements to the investment climate are critical for attracting foreign direct investment. Financial sector development is needed to support private sector growth and economic diversification. If implemented successfully, the government’s policies could be the basis for a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility arrangement.
The policies in a challenging political and economic environment are discussed in this study. The importance of reforms to enhance the budget process, tax administration, and expenditure control is encouraged. A higher growth path will require far-reaching structural reforms to bolster Comoros's competitiveness and increase the economy’s ability to intermediate remittances and aid inflows. The need to improve the business environment and the management of public utilities is explained in detail.
The Comorian authorities have made steady progress in fiscal consolidation, reinvigorated their structural reform agenda, and gathered strong public support for sound macroeconomic policies. Macroeconomic developments have been largely positive, mostly thanks to improved policies. External competitiveness has improved step by step in the last year by the recent depreciation of the euro vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar. In the medium term, the government intends to seek further gains in fiscal consolidation and to accelerate reform of public enterprises and civil service.
KEY ISSUES• The Comorian economy continues to grow although at a slightly slower pace. Economic growth in 2014 is projected at 3.3 percent, adversely affected by electricity disruptions and slower-than-expected implementation of the public investment program. Inflation has remained subdued. Staffs’ baseline assumption is that real GDP growth will average around 4 percent per annum over the medium term, provided reforms are implemented.• Implementation of the 2014 budget was challenging, particularly after mid-year. While revenues were broadly on target, resources were inadequate to meet the higher- than-budgeted wage bill resulting from an increase in teacher salaries in March and previously un-budgeted expenditures, including on elections. Domestically-financed investment spending was severely constrained and temporary arrears were incurred on salaries and external debt.• The key short-term challenge is to find a better balance between available resources and expenditures so that arrears can be avoided. Spending plans need to be based on realistic expectations of the resources likely to be available. The 2015 budget is premised on this principle but the scope for domestically-financed investment is inadequate as obligatory spending on wages and salaries and debt service absorbs most of domestic revenue.• For the medium-term the key challenges are to create fiscal space for infrastructure investment and social spending, accelerate inclusive growth and employment generation, and reduce poverty. The authorities need to focus their efforts on strengthening revenue administration and public financial management to expand fiscal space and improve transparency. Weaknesses in the business environment, including inadequate infrastructure, especially in the energy sector, and difficulties in contract enforcement represent important challenges.
This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights difficulties the economy of Comoros encountered in 2015 and the first half of 2016. An ongoing crisis in the electricity sector and slower-than-expected implementation of the public investment program were the main factors behind the slower growth. Inflation remained well anchored at an annual rate of about 2 percent. Fiscal policy was challenging for most of 2015 as the impact of slower economic growth was compounded by lower revenues. Growth is projected to pick up somewhat to 2 percent in 2016, and revenues are projected to increase to 12 percent of GDP.