Recent economic developments. Supported by a large policy package, Serbia’s economy rebounded quickly from the initial COVID-19 shock, recording a 1 percent contraction of real GDP in 2020. Job losses have mostly been contained to the informal sector, thanks to policy measures aimed at preserving formal employment. A supplementary budget for 2021 was adopted in April boosting capital expenditure and extending policy support to households and corporates, against the background of third and fourth waves of infections and related containment measures, as well as a weaker-than-expected economic recovery in key trading partners. Inflation remains low. After rising again in late February, infections tapered, helped by new containment measures and the rapid vaccine rollout.
Kosovo has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite policy support, economic activity is estimated to have fallen 6 percent in 2020 on account of the combined effect of strict domestic containment measures and international travel restrictions. The fiscal deficit increased to 7.7 percent of GDP, given the large fall in tax revenues and the implementation of mitigation and recovery measures of 4.2 percent of GDP. The current account deficit is estimated to have increased to 7.5 percent of GDP mainly due to a large decline in diaspora-related inflows, most notably in tourism. Gross international reserves declined but remain adequate in part due to the purchase under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) in April 2020 and the use of other external financing. Banks have weathered the recession well to date, and the high pre-COVID19 liquidity levels and ample capital buffers bode well for the system’s stability.
Recent economic developments. Economic activity recovered following a severe contraction in 2Q2020 caused by the pandemic. Real output in 2020 has been revised up and is now projected to contract by only 1.5 percent, on the back of positive highfrequency indicators. Inflation remains low. The banking system remains liquid. After the two waves in March and July, the number of new infections has accelerated again since mid-October, reaching record-high levels and a larger-than-expected deterioration presents a clear downside risk.
Recent economic developments. Notwithstanding a sizeable policy response, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant adverse impact on Serbia’s economic activity, with output in 2020 projected to contract by 3 percent, compared to a 4 percent increase expected prior to the COVID-19 shock. The shock is affecting the economy through lower external demand, weaker foreign direct investment and remittances, disruptions in regional and global supply chains, and domestic supply constraints. The government took strong actions to contain the pandemic at an early stage, but the number of infections accelerated again towards end-June. As a result, some containment measures have been re-introduced.
This paper discusses the Republic of Serbia’s Third Review Under the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI). Serbia is the second IMF member country to request a PCI and aims to maintain macroeconomic and financial stability, while advancing an ambitious reform agenda to foster rapid growth, job creation and improved living standards. All quantitative targets (QTs) for end-September 2019 were met. Most reform targets (RTs) have been implemented. The IMF Staff recommends completion of the third review under the Policy Coordination Instrument and establishment of end-September 2020 QTs. Fiscal policy is on track so far, however, it will be important to closely monitor 2019 budget implementation to ensure that the deficit stays within the program ceiling. While progress has been made in reforming the tax administration and strengthening public investment management frameworks, delayed reforms of the public wage system and public employment framework need to advance in 2020.
Martin Iseringhausen, Ms. Mwanza Nkusu, and Wellian Wiranto
This paper studies the determinants of repeated use of Fund-supported programs in a large sample covering virtually all General Resources Account (GRA) arrangements that were approved between 1952 and 2012. Generally, the revolving nature of the IMF’s resources calls for the temporary sup-port of member countries to address balance of payments problems while repeated use has often been viewed as program failure. First, using probit models we show that a small number of country-specific variables such as growth, the current account balance, the international reserves position, and the institutional framework play a significant role in explaining repeated use. Second, we discuss the role of IMF-specific and program-specific variables and find evidence that a country’s track record with the Fund is a good predictor of repeated use. Finally, we conduct an out-of-sample forecasting exer-cise. While our approach has predictive power for repeated use, exact forecasting remains challenging. From a policy perspective, the results could prove useful to assess the risk IMF programs pose to the revolving nature of the Fund’s financial resources.
This paper discusses Republic of Serbia’s 2019 Article IV Consultation and Second Review Under the Policy Coordination Instrument. Serbia’s macroeconomic performance, supported by the Policy Coordination Instrument, has been strong. Growth has been robust, public debt is declining, employment is rising, the financial sector is sound, and inflation is low. Strong fiscal performance continues, facilitating higher capital spending and a reduction of the tax burden on labor as well as faster debt reduction. Continued strong program implementation and determined structural reforms are important to address the challenges and accelerate income convergence with the EU. Fiscal performance has been strong, while important reforms took place toward modernization of the tax administration and privatization of the largest state-owned bank. Stronger commitment to the implementation of planned structural reforms is needed to boost potential growth and improve the private investment climate. However, Serbia remains vulnerable to spillovers from external developments, including weaker-than-expected growth in key trading partners.