Mario Pessoa, Andrew Okello, Artur Swistak, Muyangwa Muyangwa, Virginia Alonso-Albarran, and Vincent de Paul Koukpaizan
The value-added tax (VAT) has the potential to generate significant government revenue. Despite its intrinsic self-enforcement capacity, many tax administrations find it challenging to refund excess input credits, which is critical to a well-functioning VAT system. Improperly functioning VAT refund practices can have profound implications for fiscal policy and management, including inaccurate deficit measurement, spending overruns, poor budget credibility, impaired treasury operations, and arrears accumulation.This note addresses the following issues: (1) What are VAT refunds and why should they be managed properly? (2) What practices should be put in place (in tax policy, tax administration, budget and treasury management, debt, and fiscal statistics) to help manage key aspects of VAT refunds? For a refund mechanism to be credible, the tax administration must ensure that it is equipped with the strategies, processes, and abilities needed to identify VAT refund fraud. It must also be prepared to act quickly to combat such fraud/schemes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Madagascar hard, reversing recent progress in per capita income and poverty reduction. GDP is estimated to have contracted by 4.2 percent in 2020. Two RCF disbursements approved on April 3 and July 30 (totaling 2.4 percent of GDP) helped close short-term financing gaps, supported mitigation measures, and contributed to catalyzing donor budget support. The authorities are seeking renewed Fund assistance to help the country face protracted balance of payment needs aggravated by the impact of the pandemic and support the authorities’ reform agenda summarized in the Plan Emergence Madagascar (PEM).
A further deterioration of the global environment and a deepening of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened the macroeconomic outlook significantly, with growth now projected to be negative in 2020. As a result, urgent balance of payments needs arising from the pandemic are now estimated at 4.2 percent of GDP (compared to 1.8 percent), and the authorities have requested an additional disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) of 50 percent of quota
(SDR 122.2 million) under the “exogenous shock” window of the RCF. This follows Board approval on April 3, 2020 of the authorities’ request for 50 percent of quota, which took place before the annual access of the RCF was doubled to 100 percent of quota on April 6, 2020. This additional request, if approved, will bring total disbursements under the RCF to 100 percent of quota in 2020. The authorities have also requested temporary debt servicing relief under the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, supported by the G-20 and Paris Club.