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Mr. Norbert Funke, Asel Isakova, and Maksym Ivanyna
Using data from the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report as an example, this paper compares structural indicators for 25 countries in Emerging Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia with a generic country with similar charactersitics that is 40 percent richer as well as a country with the average EU income. This comparison suggests that improvements will be particularly crucial in the areas of institutions, financial market development, infrastructure, goods and labor market efficiency and areas related to innovation. For the generally more ambitious goal of reaching average EU income, the reform needs are correspondingly larger. The methodology focuses on (approximate) comparisons between countries and does not try to establish the link between structural reforms and growth. While we test for changes in empirical specifications, caveats relate to the quality of structural indicators, possible non-linearities, and reform complementarities. The approach can be applied to other indicators and at a more granular level.
Mr. Francesco Grigoli
Good practice suggests that budget allocations should reflect spending priorities and that spending should provide cost-effective delivery of public goods and services. This paper analyzes the composition of public expenditure in the Slovak Republic. It also assesses the relative efficiency of spending in education and health. The Slovak Republic spends more on social benefits and less on wages compared to the EU and OECD average. While it manages to translate the low expenditures into outcomes in an efficient manner in the education sector, this is not true for health. Moreover, the recent increases in expenditure levels have not improved outcomes, suggesting that significant budgetary savings could be achieved through increases in efficiency.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
IMF research summaries on measures of financial integration (by Martin Schindler) and on sovereign wealth funds and financial stability (by Tao Sun and Heiko Hesse); regional study on cross-border labor flows in new European Union member states (by Rudolfs Bems); listing of contents of Vol. 56 No. 1 of IMF Staff Papers, a special issue on frontiers of research on financial globalization; a listing of visiting scholars at the IMF during December 2008–March 2009; and a listing of recent IMF Working Papers.
International Monetary Fund
The first analysis focuses on external stability, an important issue in view of Croatia’s external imbalances and the requirements of the IMF’s 2007 Decision on Bilateral Surveillance. The paper shows that the real exchange rate is broadly in line with economic fundamentals and that external debt dynamics are sustainable as long as macroeconomic policies remain strong. The second analysis finds significant inefficiencies in Croatia’s social spending. It also discusses several reform measures to reduce inefficiencies in public spending and generate budgetary savings to reduce the general government deficit.
Ms. Victoria Gunnarsson and Mr. Etibar Jafarov
This paper assesses the relative efficiency of government spending on health care and education in Croatia by using the so-called Data Envelopment Analysis. The analysis finds evidence of significant inefficiencies in Croatia's spending on health care and education, related to inadequate cost recovery, weaknesses in the financing mechanisms and institutional arrangements, weak competition in the provision of these services, and weaknesses in targeting public subsidies on health care and education. These inefficiencies suggest that government spending on health and education could be reduced without undue sacrifices in the quality of these services. The paper identifies ways to do that.
Mr. David Hauner
This paper benchmarks the efficiency of public expenditure in the social sectors in the Russian Federation relative to other countries and among the country's regions. It finds that there is substantial room for efficiency gains, particularly in health care and social protection, although less so in education. An econometric analysis of efficiency differences between the regions suggests that they are positively related to per capita income and the quality of governance and democratic control, while they are negatively related to the share of federal transfers in the respective region's government revenue and the level of spending relative to gross regional product.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

The June 2007 issue of F&D spotlights gender equality. The lead article discusses progress toward fulfilling the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on redressing gender discrimination and empowering women and related MDGs. The section also looks at how budgeting with gender issues in mind can help countries promote gender equality and what needs to be done to get girls from 'excluded' social groups into school. Other articles focus on Asia 10 years after the financial crisis, the implications of China's and India's growing ties with Africa, and making remittances work for Africa. 'Country Focus' looks at the challenges facing Bulgaria now that it has joined the European Union, 'Picture This' highlights the globalization of labor, and 'Back to Basics' gives a primer on microfinance. Two other pieces discuss the efficiency of public spending in Latin America and how countries can use the public sector balance sheet approach to diagnose vulnerabilities that are not immediately visible in the budget.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper examines two key questions on fiscal policy reform in the Czech Republic. First, how can the fiscal institutional framework be strengthened to maintain discipline and enhance transparency? Second, what are the priorities in expenditure reform that can be implemented without sacrificing the quality of spending? The paper discusses the recent Czech experience with the medium-term expenditure framework and some proposals for strengthening it. It also discusses cross-country analyses of spending efficiency and flexibility, and proposes areas for fiscal adjustment that reduce inefficiencies.

International Monetary Fund
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) has been developed for eradicating poverty in Armenia. It analyzes the poverty situation of Armenia, and evaluates the methodology and methodological issues. It discusses the PRSP goals, main policy directions, solution to poverty, and the reduction of inequality. It assesses the social and economic strategies and governance. It reviews the employment issues and trends in the budget framework, and also analyzes the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the system.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.