The COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe impact on São Tomé and Príncipe’s economy, exacerbating fiscal and external imbalances. Tourism activities and external remittances dropped sharply, while lockdown measures further deepened the recession. The authorities’ swift actions and unprecedented international financial support are helping the country weather the emergency. The economy began to reopen in the fall, but the outlook for 2021 remains challenging and subject to significant uncertainty.
Lam Nguyen, Mika Saito, and Shirin Nikaein Towfighian
This paper explores the causes and consequences of fiscal dominance over monetary policy in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Fiscal dominance has always been a pressing problem as it can contribute to inflation and macroeconomic instability, and increasingly so as fiscal deficits and public debt are rising in many SSA countries. We find that legal limits and availability of alternative financing options play an important role in determining the extent to which government deficits tend to be financed by the central bank. We also find economically significant effects of central bank lending to government on the exchange rate and inflation.
While improving, the economic outlook remains highly challenging, given the slow and uncertain recovery from the COVID-related shocks. Heavily dependent on oil, the Angolan economy has suffered from weakness in that sector, with falling production (related to the pandemic) and only a partial rebound in international prices recently. These shocks have led to a fifth straight year of recession and hardship. The public debt-to-GDP ratio has risen to very elevated levels, driven by recent real exchange rate depreciation. Nevertheless, strong fiscal performance and active debt management are setting the stage for a gradual economic recovery and reduction in debt vulnerabilities.
The economic outlook has substantially deteriorated since the Second Review, driven by the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global economic activity and oil prices. The adverse impact of the shock on the Angolan economy, which is highly dependent on oil (95 percent of exports, two-thirds of government revenue), adds to the hardship from five consecutive years of recession. Rapid exchange rate depreciation and the decline in oil prices have pushed the public debt-to-GDP ratio to a very high level. However, continued fiscal retrenchment, prudent debt management, and debt reprofiling are expected to improve debt dynamics progressively.