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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. Ricardo Fenochietto and Juan Carlos Benitez
This paper analyses and compares two different groups of tools, the first to encourage the use of invoices (or payment systems) and the second to refund the VAT to low-income individuals. The analysis contributes to the existing literature by providing a clear characterization between these two groups of tools that are too often misunderstood and offers clear guidance to policymakers on the benefits and pitfalls of them based on available empirical studies and novel data analysis. Briefly, the first group includes a set of regressive and distortive tools (such as, allowing deducting the VAT paid on personal consumption from the PIT and reducing the VAT rate for using electronic means of payments or registration), while the second group includes tools that are less distortionary and improve income distribution (tax credits and VAT rate reduction targeted only at low-income individuals). This paper also finds that allowing the deduction of personal consumption against the PIT’s taxable base (i) did not impact positively the VAT revenue in Guatemala and (ii) worsens the income distribution in Ecuador.
Mr. Jean Imbs and Mr. Paolo Mauro
In this paper, we identify the groups of countries where international risk-sharing opportunities are most attractive. We show that the bulk of risk-sharing gains can be achieved in groups consisting of as few as seven members, and that further marginal benefits quickly become negligible. For many such small groups, the welfare gains associated with risk sharing can amount to one order of magnitude larger than Lucas's classic calibration suggested for the United States, under similar assumptions on utility. Why do we not observe more arrangements of this type? Large welfare gains can only be achieved within groups where contracts are probably seen as relatively difficult to enforce. International diversification can thus yield substantial gains, but these may remain untapped owing to potential partners' weak institutional quality and a history of default on international obligations. Noting that existing risk sharing arrangements often have a regional dimension, we speculate that shared economic interests such as common trade may help sustain such arrangements, though risk-sharing gains are smaller when membership is constrained on a regional basis.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Brazil is building on 10 years of robust economic fundamentals. Economic growth, which has long been anemic, is beginning to pick up. Inflation continues to be low. Consumer prices rose only 3 percent between January 2006 and January 2007 and inflation expectations remain low. Brazil’s external position is solid, with a strong current account surplus—1½ percent of GDP last year—and international reserves around $97 billion, equivalent to about 175 percent of its short-term debt.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Although Latin America is growing at its best sustained pace since the 1970s, the apparent dissatisfaction of many voters there “has its roots in real economic problems, especially in growth, which remains too low, and poverty levels, which remain too high in many countries,” IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato told the Latin American Business Association Conference at Columbia University Business School in New York on February 16. The solution, he said, is “to continue with policies that have been shown to work, to refine these policies where necessary to promote further growth and address poverty and inequality, and to do so with sensitivity to both the importance of institutions and the circumstances of individual countries.”

Ms. Anne Epaulard

Few would dispute that, on average, economic growth benefits the poor and that poverty reduction is a product of economic growth. However, data from developing and transition economies show that, for a given growth rate of per capita GDP, some countries achieve more poverty reduction than others. Understanding why this is so can help countries identify which economic policies are most effective in reducing poverty. A new IMF Working Paper, “Macroeconomic Performance and Poverty Reduction,” studies the link between growth and poverty reduction and concludes that there is no trade-off between them.

Mr. Juan P Cordoba, Mr. Robert Gillingham, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Ali M. Mansoor, Mr. Christian Schiller, and Marijn Verhoeven

Abstract

This text provides guidance to policymakers on how to design and implement sound price-subsidy reforms. It draws on the experience of price-subsidy reform in 28 countries. The authors discuss economic and political considerations and make several recommendations concerning the speed of reform and social protection mechanisms. They discuss how the social impact of reform can be limited by establishing cost-effective and well-targeted temporary social protection mechanisms, and how governments can reduce the risk of political disruption by distributing the initial burden of reform fairly and by clearly explaining the costs and benefits to the public.

International Monetary Fund

The crisis in the banking sector was one of the major contributing factors that led Ecuador to abandon its own currency and introduce the U.S. dollar as legal tender. However, to illustrate the weak growth performance of the country, it is necessary to examine the structural weaknesses in the labor market, the tax system, and the trade system. These weaknesses resulted in the increase in poverty and inequality. This paper provides a brief summary of recent economic developments and statistical data on economic indices of Ecuador.

International Monetary Fund

The crisis in the banking sector was one of the major contributing factors that led Ecuador to abandon its own currency and introduce the U.S. dollar as legal tender. However, to illustrate the weak growth performance of the country, it is necessary to examine the structural weaknesses in the labor market, the tax system, and the trade system. These weaknesses resulted in the increase in poverty and inequality. This paper provides a brief summary of recent economic developments and statistical data on economic indices of Ecuador.

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.