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Mr. Ricardo Fenochietto
This paper analyses and compares two different groups of tools, the first to encourage the use of invoices (or payment systems) and the second to refund the VAT to low-income individuals. The analysis contributes to the existing literature by providing a clear characterization between these two groups of tools that are too often misunderstood and offers clear guidance to policymakers on the benefits and pitfalls of them based on available empirical studies and novel data analysis. Briefly, the first group includes a set of regressive and distortive tools (such as, allowing deducting the VAT paid on personal consumption from the PIT and reducing the VAT rate for using electronic means of payments or registration), while the second group includes tools that are less distortionary and improve income distribution (tax credits and VAT rate reduction targeted only at low-income individuals). This paper also finds that allowing the deduction of personal consumption against the PIT’s taxable base (i) did not impact positively the VAT revenue in Guatemala and (ii) worsens the income distribution in Ecuador.
Iulia Ruxandra Teodoru
This paper argues that structural weaknesses may make private investment particularly sensitive to business confidence relative to other traditional investment drivers and global shocks. It gauges the importance of confidence over recent years in selected countries in Central America, including Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Using a vector error correction model to carry out the empirical work, a system representing global activity and the domestic economy, including a set of investment drivers (interest rates, unit labor costs, and confidence) is analyzed. The findings suggest that confidence has been, on average, the most important driver of investment in these countries, exceeded only by global factors. Since confidence, arguably, can be influenced by policymakers’ decisions, structural reforms to improve the business climate and reduce uncertainty play an important role in promoting investment and economic growth.
Dmitry Plotnikov
This paper presents a structural model of crime and output. Individuals make an occupational choice between criminal and legal activities. The return to becoming a criminal is endogenously determined in a general equilibrium together with the level of crime and economic activity. I calibrate the model to the Northern Triangle countries and conduct several policy experiments. I find that for a country like Honduras crime reduces GDP by about 3 percent through its negative effect on employment indirectly, in addition to direct costs of crime associated with material losses, which are in line with literature estimates. Also, the model generates a non-linear effect of crime on output and vice versa. On average I find that a one percent increase in output per capita implies about ½ percent decline in crime, while a decrease of about 5 percent in crime leads to about one percent increase in output per capita. These positive effects are larger if the initial level of crime is larger.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Fundamentals remain strong and growth has revived after three years of subpar performance. Improved budgetary execution and monetary accommodation, broadly in line with past staff advice, are providing demand support as the economy navigates weaker terms of trade. Near-term growth is poised for a rebound on the back of fiscal impulse from the 2019 expansionary budget, exports recovery after last year’s slump, and construction-driven investment. Lack of progress on long-delayed business climate and public sector reforms, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda, and financial inclusion, dampen medium-term prospects.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation discusses that structural reforms, strengthened policy frameworks and the ongoing smooth political transition have laid the foundations for sustained growth in El Salvador. The discussions focused on policies that build on these achievements and address fiscal vulnerabilities, boost long-term growth, and strengthen the governance, anticorruption and Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism frameworks. Continued US dollar appreciation led to a significant decline in inflation and widening of the current account deficit. The authorities agreed that debt would continue to drift upward in the absence of measures, and that weaker-than-expected global growth could have a negative impact on the domestic economy. The authorities emphasized their commitment to guarantee a smooth political transition by sharing information with the new administration and by inviting the Audit Office to oversee the handover process. It is recommended to improve the governance and anticorruption frameworks by increasing the fiscal transparency of the 2020 budget laws, strengthening audit and spending controls, and promptly implementing electronic invoicing.