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.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic loss of human life and major damage to the European economy, but thanks to an exceptionally strong policy response, potentially devastating outcomes have been avoided.
The COVID-19 pandemic will hit Montenegro hard, as tourism is a key industry. Fiscal space has eroded in recent years due to large public capital outlays, and the COVID-19 crisis is creating new budgetary strains as health spending and other expenditures rise, while the economic contraction lowers revenues.
The IMF’s Statistics Department (STA) conducted a technical assistance mission to support the Central Bank of Montenegro (CBM) for the compilation of external sector statistics in Montenegro during January 20–31, 2020. The mission recommended that the CBM compile preliminary quarterly International Investment Position data and submit them to STA for review by the end of December 2020. The mission recommended that the CBM start recording the Economic Citizenship Program (ECP) according to the characteristics of the payments from the applicants by the end of March 2020. The ECP was just introduced in 2019 and details of the program were not made available during the mission. The mission advised that the payments from applicants for the ECP should be recorded in services, current or capital transfers, or direct or portfolio investment, according to the characteristics of the payments. The CBM plans to start recording data based on the information obtained from the international transaction reporting system (ITRS). The mission advised that the CBM approach the agency in charge of the ECP to collect precise information on the characteristics of the payments and cross-check the data from the ITRS.