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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.
Mr. Lorenzo U Figliuoli, Valentina Flamini, Misael Galdamez, Frederic Lambert, Mike Li, Mr. Bogdan Lissovolik, Rosalind Mowatt, Jaume Puig, Mr. Alexander D Klemm, Mauricio Soto, Mr. Saji Thomas, Christoph Freudenberg, and Anna Orthofer
This paper estimates the fiscal costs of population aging in Latin America and provides policy recommendations on reforms needed to make these costs manageable. Although Latin American societies are still younger than most advanced economies, like other emerging markets the region is already in a process of population aging that is expected to accelerate in the remainder of the century. This will directly affect fiscal sustainability by putting pressure on public pension and health care systems in the region that are already more burdened than, for example, in emerging Asia, a region with a similar demographic structure. A stylized cross-country exercise, drawing on demographic projections from the United Nations and methodologies developed by the IMF to derive public spending projections, is used to quantify long-term fiscal gaps generated by population aging in 18 Latin American countries. Several aspects of current pensions and health care systems in Latin Amer-ica make the region’s long-term fiscal positions particularly vulnerable to population aging.
Lucía Pérez Fragoso and Corina Rodríguez Enríquez
Gender budgeting is an approach to fiscal policy and administration that integrates considerations of women’s equality and advancement into the budget. Latin American countries have undertaken diverse gender budgeting initiatives, most of them addressing public expenditures. This paper surveys and assesses some key initiatives, including those in Mexico, Mexico City, Ecuador, Bolivia, and El Salvador, and briefly summarizes others. The five key initiatives offer different perspectives on how countries approach gender budgeting. We find that these initiatives are contributing to the reduction of gender inequality and the advancement of women in Latin America, though there is scope to strengthen them.
Kristin Magnussen
Countries’ absolute and relative international reserves adequacy has recently attracted considerable attention. The analysis has however concentrated on the largest and most advanced economies. We apply various methodologies for assessing reserve adequacy in Central America, taking into account the region’s high degree of deposit dollarization. We find that reserve cover is low both in an absolute and relative sense, suggesting further reserve accumulation is an important policy option for reducing vulnerabilities.
Mr. Esteban Vesperoni and Walter Orellana R.
The public debt profile has improved in Bolivia in recent years, with regard to both the maturity structure and the currency composition. This paper analyzes changes in the public debt profile in Bolivia since 2000, and the role played by macroeconomic factors and the debt management strategy adopted by the authorities. We find that both played an important role, in particular the strengthening of the fiscal and international reserves positions and the appreciation of the Boliviano; and regulations promoting the use of the domestic currency. Our findings are consistent with Claessens, Klingebiel and Schmukler (2007)—who found that macro and institutional factors had an impact on debt profiles for a group of emerging and developed economies—and are in contrast with the original sin literature, which stresses that profiles are mainly determined by market incompleteness. We also compare the debt profile of Bolivia with those of other countries in Latin America, and find that there is still room for improvement against the regional benchmark, both in terms of maturity structure and currency composition.
Mr. Benedict J. Clements, Christopher Faircloth, and Marijn Verhoeven
This paper examines trends in government spending in Latin America from the mid-1990s to 2006. It also examines key policy issues, including the cyclicality of spending, public investment, public employment, and social expenditures. It finds that primary expenditures have trended upward for the past ten years as a share of GDP, driven by increases in current spending, in particular for social expenditures. Fluctuations in real spending have continued to follow a procyclical pattern. The paper finds that there is substantial scope to improve the efficiency of public investment, public employment, and social spending.
Mr. Robert Rennhack and Mr. Masahiro Nozaki
This paper tests several explanations for financial dollarization (FD), with an emphasis on Latin America. The results provide evidence that FD is a rational response to inflation uncertainty. The paper builds on previous research by finding that an exchange rate policy biased towards currency depreciation and currency mismatches tends to contribute to high FD and that FD is highly persistent. These results suggest that countries with significant FD should encourage the use of domestic currency by maintaining macroeconomic stability; allowing more exchange rate flexibility and less bias towards currency depreciation; and adapting prudential regulations to ensure that costs associated with FD are fully internalized in financial contracts. At the same time, restoring confidence in the domestic currency may take many years of sound policies.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/home.aspx
Mr. Parthasarathi Shome
From the mid-1980s to early 1990s, Latin American tax policy provided rich lessons for other reforming countries. Meaningful innovations led also to perceptible revenue gains. Later in the 1990s, tax policies began to drift. Shining examples of fundamental reform seemed to lose their luster. Revenue in terms of GDP also stagnated, partly reflecting over-reliance on consumption taxes and neglect of taxable capacity on incomes. The stagnation has been exacerbated by excessively simplified administrative practices. Based on these developments and on the limited taxability of internationally mobile capital, the paper anticipates a likely tax structure for the new century.