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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This paper focuses on Maldives’ Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility. The pandemic is inflicting significant damage, especially on tourism activity, and is expected to result in substantial weakening of the Maldives’ gross domestic product growth, balance of payments and the fiscal position. The government of the Maldives acted quickly to put in place containment measures and is seeking support from the international community for its crisis response plan. The authorities have responded quickly to the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak, including specific travel restrictions and subsequently more comprehensive travel measures. They also put together a set of measures to alleviate its social and economic fallout. The temporary fiscal accommodation is appropriate. The authorities will reprioritize and cut capital expenditures, redirecting funds as needed to combat the pandemic and provide temporary and well-targeted support to the most vulnerable households and businesses, while maintaining high standards of transparency and governance. The authorities remain committed to fiscal and debt sustainability over the medium term. They intend to achieve a balanced fiscal adjustment based on the reduction of capital spending to historical averages, recurrent expenditure discipline, and revenue mobilization.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2002 Article IV Consultation with Maldives discusses that the performance of the Maldivian economy was strong through most of the past decade, despite handicaps arising from its small size and vulnerability to external developments. The devaluation and the weaker dollar have brought the effective real exchange rate closer to that of main competitors. Reserves have clawed back some of the losses in the aftermath of the devaluation. The 2002 Article IV discussions presented the opportunity to reassess progress toward restoring the soundness of macroeconomic and structural policies. In order to ensure a favorable medium-term performance for the Maldives, policies need to support the fixed exchange rate and adapt to ongoing structural changes—notably, the progressive liberalization of the financial sector, further private sector participation in activities still dominated by state-owned enterprises, and the likely tapering off of external assistance. The authorities have made some progress in responding to key policy challenges. Recent consultations have stressed the need for a stronger fiscal position and independent monetary management.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2012 Article IV Consultation with Maldives discusses that fiscal position is weak, and its external reserves are critically low. The country has a long history of fiscal and external imbalances. Macroeconomic policies need adjustment. The authorities have taken important steps in the 2013 budget to reduce the fiscal deficit, but further consolidation is needed, both to ensure debt sustainability and to strengthen the balance of payments. That latter goal would be aided by devaluation, combined with a restrictive incomes and subsidy policy, which would address the current overvaluation of the rufiyaa and help to curb imports. Monetary tightening would help to prevent the need for a further devaluation. Financial supervision, particularly with regard to the state bank, also needs strengthening. Given the track record, a Staff Monitored Program could be the appropriate starting point for any renewed engagement, however, in order to begin discussions, there would need to be a clear commitment on the authorities’ part to implementing a comprehensive set of policy adjustments.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2005 Article IV Consultation with Maldives discusses that Maldives has rebounded strongly from the tsunami of late 2004. Gross domestic product has grown rapidly, underpinned by a robust increase in tourist arrivals, and by construction activity pertaining to the development of new resorts. Inflation remains low although it is on a rising trend. The exchange rate peg continues to serve the country well. The main challenge for Maldives is to ensure that favorable growth prospects are not undermined by fiscal excesses and consequent macroeconomic instability. The IMF staff urged the authorities to prioritize expenditures in line with more realistic revenue estimates, so as to achieve the stated objective of zero domestic financing of the budget. There has been a recent increase in debt ratios due to construction of new resorts and the government’s ambitious infrastructure program. The new central bank act has separated the positions of finance minister and governor of the central bank and reorganized the governing body of the central bank. Going forward it will be important to entrench central bank independence.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2001 Article IV Consultation with Maldives highlights that the economic challenges faced by Maldives are strongly influenced by geography and environment. The government’s overarching development strategy consists of creating new growth centers in the north and the south of the country and massive land reclamation in the vicinity of Male. Notwithstanding a slowdown in growth in 2000, Maldives’ economy has prospered with the rapid expansion of tourism and the modernization of the fisheries. At the conclusion of the last Article IV consultation on November 9, 2000, Executive Directors praised Maldives’ overall performance, however, warned of emerging imbalances. Fiscal slippage, compounded by adverse external developments, has been the main cause of recent imbalances in the Maldivian economy, manifested in rapid monetary expansion and sustained pressure on the exchange rate. The report shows that monetary developments have been dominated by central bank financing of fiscal deficits and excess demand for foreign exchange. The IMF staff team concluded that an adjustment of the exchange rate was not warranted until other options had been explored more fully.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2019 Article IV Consultation discusses that growth in Maldives has been strong and is projected to remain so in 2019 driven by tourism, commerce, and construction. Nonetheless, the Maldives remains highly vulnerable with reduced policy space due to large and growing public debt and rising pressures on external stability. The consultation focused on addressing external imbalances including offering advice on restoring fiscal buffers, strengthening public finance management, reforming the exchange rate regime, building international reserves, improving governance, implementing structural reforms, and encouraging diversification. The outlook is for continued strong growth and moderate inflation, and only a gradual improvement in fiscal and current account deficits. As major infrastructure projects will gradually start to unwind, the current account deficit will begin to narrow. Under the current policies, the fiscal deficit is projected to remain elevated. However, successful implementation of tax reforms and improved tax administration, together with measures to contain budgetary spending, would result in a narrowing of both fiscal and current account deficits and mitigate the risks posed by high and rising public and external debt.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that Maldives’ economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2016 and continues to improve in 2017 on a recovery in tourism and a continued strength in construction. The fiscal deficit widened in 2016 driven by lower-than-expected revenue and large arrears clearance despite unchanged current spending. Public debt as a share of GDP rose nearly 11.5 percentage points from 2014–16. The outlook is for a strengthening recovery in the near term, with low inflation, loose financial conditions, but with significant downside risks from a fragile fiscal and external position. Growth is projected to recover in 2017 and stabilize over the medium term.
International Monetary Fund
Small developing states are disproportionately vulnerable to natural disasters. On average, the annual cost of disasters for small states is nearly 2 percent of GDP—more than four times that for larger countries. This reflects a higher frequency of disasters, adjusted for land area, as well as greater vulnerability to severe disasters. About 9 percent of disasters in small states involve damage of more than 30 percent of GDP, compared to less than 1 percent for larger states. Greater exposure to disasters has important macroeconomic effects on small states, resulting in lower investment, lower GDP per capita, higher poverty, and a more volatile revenue base.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This paper discusses recent economic developments, outlook, and risks of Maldives’ economy. Maldives living standards have risen to middle-income levels over the past two decades driven by tourism development. The country’s geography creates fiscal challenges, and the economy has faced persistent fiscal deficits over the past decade. The economy is highly exposed to climate change, a fact that further adds to fiscal costs. The real economy outperformed its peers in the past few years, but tourism slowed last year. Public debt is high and on a rising trajectory. A detailed national development strategy would ensure that investment plans are well coordinated and bring about bigger growth dividends.