International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis is hitting ECCU economies hard. Tourism receipts (accounting for nearly 40 percent of GDP) have dried up, as tourist arrivals have come to a grinding halt. The authorities successfully contained the spread of the virus at the onset of the pandemic by largely closing the borders, but a reopening of the economies since the summer has led to a surge in COVID cases. The ECCU economy is projected to contract by 16 percent in 2020 and by a further near ½ percent in 2021. Fiscal positions have deteriorated sharply, and public debt is projected to reach near 90 percent of GDP in 2021 and remain at an elevated level for years to come. Headline indicators suggest the financial system is relatively sound with ample liquidity buffers, but nonperforming loans are expected to rise significantly. The outlook is clouded by exceptionally high risks, including from the uncertainty concerning the evolution of the pandemic.
International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & and Review Department
A careful review has revealed significant scope to modernize and better align the MAC DSA with its objectives and the IMF’s lending framework. This note proposes replacing the current framework with a new methodology based on risk assessments at three different horizons. Extensive testing has shown that the proposed framework has much better predictive accuracy than the current one. In addition to predicting sovereign stress, the framework can be used to derive statements about debt stabilization under current policies and about debt sustainability.
The government’s plans to reform the tax system and administration are well founded. The Central Bank of Aruba is to be commended for its prudent management of monetary policy, as demonstrated by the continued credibility and strength of the peg to the U.S. dollar, buttressed by a robust foreign reserve position. There has been significant progress in expanding and strengthening the supervisory and regulatory framework of financial activities. Renewed initiatives on structural reforms will improve efficiency in the use of resources and attract strategic investment.