International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2019 Article IV Consultation highlights that Brunei’s economy has been adjusting to declining oil production since 2010 and lower oil and gas (O&G) prices since 2014, with the authorities undertaking wide-ranging reforms. Growth is expected to pick up in 2019 to 1.8 percent, with the outlook improving further over the medium term, driven by stronger O&G activities from asset rejuvenation and large foreign direct investment projects. The authorities have made substantial progress in fiscal consolidation, improving the business climate, and developing the financial sector. The fiscal consolidation initiatives include corporatization and privatization, public-private partnership, evaluation of subsidies against targets, fiscal management enhancement, revenue diversification, and amalgamation of the government’s asset management system. The IMF staff supports the authorities’ initiatives to develop the financial sector, while safeguarding financial stability and integrity. The initiatives include steps to broaden the investor base, establish a secondary bond market, develop the required infrastructure and rules for establishing a stock exchange, and put all the three pillars of Basel II in place.
After the decline in oil prices, many oil exporters face the need to improve their external
balances. Special characteristics of oil exporters make the exchange rate an ineffective
instrument for this purpose and give fiscal policy a sizeable role. These conclusions are
supported by regression analysis of the determinants of the current account balance and of
the trade balance. The results show little or no relationship with the exchange rate and,
especially for the less diversified oil exporters (including the Gulf Cooperation Council), a
strong relationship with the fiscal balance or government spending.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
This report examines whether the IMF has effectively leveraged an important asset: data. It finds that in general, the IMF has been able to rely on a large amount of data of acceptable quality, and that data provision from member countries has improved markedly over time. Nonetheless, problems with data or data practices have, at times, adversely affected the IMF’s surveillance and lending activities. The roots of data problems are diverse, ranging from problems due to member countries’ capacity constraints or reluctance to share sensitive data to internal issues such as lack of appropriate staff incentives, institutional rigidities, and long-standing work practices. Efforts to tackle these problems are piecemeal, the report finds, without a clear comprehensive strategy that recognizes data as an institutional strategic asset, not just a consumption good for economists. The report makes a number of recommendations that could promote greater progress in this regard.