International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This Technical Assistance (TA) mission focused on scoping the prospects of developing a secondary market for government securities in Seychelles. The Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) has a leading role in developing the financial markets and thus acted as the primary counterpart for this mission. However, due to the mission being primarily fact-finding it reached out to all various possible stakeholders; the Ministry of Finance Trade Investment and Economic Planning (MoFTIEP), commercial banks, a pension fund, insurance companies, the securities exchange, securities dealers, etc. In addition, the mission sees the need to coordinate with the World bank (WB) and the IMF country (SYC) team as the former is providing assistance within the legal and payment system areas and the latter provides Seychelles with policy advice under the current PCI program.
This paper refers to Seychelles’ Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). The near-term economic fallout of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic is expected to be severe. Restriction in travel will hinder tourism and weaken fiscal and external positions, creating large additional financing needs. The authorities reacted swiftly by taking immediate measures of containment, including border closures, strengthening health policy responses and supporting households and firms. The emergency IMF support under the RFI provides timely resources to the authorities to address the urgent balance of payments and budgetary needs. The assistance of other international financial institutions and development partners is crucial to close the remaining financing gaps, ease the adjustment burden, and preserve economic growth. The authorities are committed to transparency and good governance in the use of emergency financing by providing monthly reports of pandemic-related expenditure to the National Assembly and undertaking an independent audit of such spending and procurement and publishing the results.
This paper discusses Seychelles’ Fourth Review Under the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) and Request for Modification of Targets. Economic developments since the completion of the 2019 Article IV consultation and the third review under the PCI in June 2019 have been broadly in line with expectations. The program is largely on track. The 2020 budget recently submitted to the National Assembly is in line with the program and the major infrastructure and climate change related projects would be implemented within the fiscal parameters under the PCI. All quantitative targets for end-June 2019, the program’s fourth review test date, were met except for the primary fiscal surplus target, which was missed by a very small margin due to a delay in receipts from 2016 to 2017 sales of a telecom company. The economic outlook continues to be favorable. Downside risks to the outlook largely stem from possible external shocks, including weakness in the key tourism markets and global banks’ withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships.
Seychelles has made noticeable progress toward economic stability and sustainability under successive Fund programs through prudent macroeconomic policies and bold reforms since the crisis in 2008. Despite significant headway, the country remains vulnerable to external shocks as a small, open, and tourism-dependent economy. Seychelles could face challenges to reconcile its goals to reduce its infrastructure gap, enhance its resilience to climate change, and bolster its medium-term fiscal and external sustainability.
Economic developments since the completion of the first review under the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) in June 2018 have been broadly in line with expectations. The program is largely on track. Staff received renewed assurance from President Faure that the large infrastructure projects announced in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in March 2018 would be implemented within the fiscal targets under the PCI.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on the prospects of growth in São Tomé and Príncipe (STP). This case study seeks explanations for STP’s relative under-performance and draws lessons for the future. It compares past economic developments in the islands and recommends policies that could most effectively foster future growth in STP. Country-specific characteristics as well as weak institutions contributed to STP’s relative underperformance since independence. Initial conditions, particularly regarding human capital and natural resources, contributed to STP’s relative underperformance, especially in the first decade after independence. Experience in the four island-states suggests that fiscal discipline, revenue mobilization, and a more active private sector, particularly in the tourism sector, may be key to tap STP’s growth potential. Fiscal discipline is needed to contain the fiscal deficit and bring the debt to a sustainable level. Continuing to strengthen public financial management, including implementing multiannual fiscal framework as recommended by the IMF technical assistance, would help.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes Kenya’s success in boosting financial inclusion. Kenya has become a regional and global leader in mobilizing new technologies to advance financial inclusion, poverty reduction, and growth. The rapid progress of financial inclusion in Kenya has been a result of a friendly environment for the absorption of information technology, dynamic local banks, and open and stable regulations. Advances in financial inclusion over the past 10 years have allowed Kenyans to reap many of the benefits of financial access at a much faster pace than the typical cycle of financial deepening in low- and middle-income countries. Mobile financial services have lowered the transaction cost of remittances, allowing Kenyan households to smooth consumption in the face of shocks and significantly reducing poverty.