This Technical Assistance Report on the Republic of Estonia highlights that public investment is a priority spending area, and Estonia is seeking to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of its capital expenditure from an already high level. Estonia’s public investment is relatively efficient, while further improvements should pay attention to the quality of public services enabled by them. Investment implementation is particularly strong. This reflects Estonia’s open procurement framework that utilizes an advanced e-procurement system, its modern treasury that employs an effective Treasury Single Account system to guarantee cash availability, asset monitoring that has been made routine through full accrual accounting for the whole public sector, and active project management by ministries. Some practices that are already effectively implemented should be formalized in the institutional design which will act as a safeguard. Public investment projects should be managed in an integrated portfolio at all stages of the investment cycle. It is difficult to obtain a picture of all-important investment projects pursued in the public sector including by local governments and state-owned enterprises. A comprehensive portfolio view of all projects supports transparent prioritization across sectors and the identification of systemic patterns or risks.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the drivers of wage growth and inflation in Estonia. The analysis reveals that the role played by the inflation and inflation expectations in Estonia is different from those of the EU15. The impact of inflation on wage formation is smaller than in larger and richer countries with lower inflation volatility. This has limited the downward pressure on wages during the period of very low inflation in 2014–16. Although there has been an episode of wage growth leading inflation before the global financial crisis, the current simultaneous acceleration in prices and wages is not evidence of a developing wage-price spiral, as a significant share of the increase in inflation is owing to exogenous factors.
This staff report on the Republic of Serbia’s Article IV Consultation highlights economic background and policies. The global financial crisis exposed Serbia’s unsustainable growth model and its key vulnerabilities. Robust growth has not taken off, and economic activity is below precrisis levels amid widespread structural rigidities. Serbia’s economy is recovering from recession but faces multiple challenges. The successful launch of Fiat production in 2012 is contributing to growth this year, and inflation is declining. Potential growth is constrained by multiple structural hurdles resulting from unfinished structural reforms. Rebalancing the policy mix and launching a comprehensive package of structural reforms are critical to unlocking Serbia’s growth potential.
Gregorio Impavido, Mr. Heinz Rudolph, and Mr. Luigi Ruggerone
CESEE banks are reducing foreign funding sources in response to reduced external imbalances, reduced ability to tap international savings, banking group own strategies, initiatives by some regulators, and consistently with uncertainties surrounding the future of the banking union project. In the medium term, the global regulatory agenda and the high foreign presence and stock of FX loans exert opposite forces on rebalancing trends. In the long-term, any funding “new normal” will be determined by the future design of the EU financial architecture. In the meantime, limiting leverage, the use of FX loans and promoting aggregate saving through macro policies and capital market reforms will increase resilience against shocks going forward.
Estonia has succeeded in reducing its macroeconomic imbalances and vulnerabilities, but faces the challenge of preserving its hard-earned fiscal and financial stability and enhancing long-term growth prospects. In this regard, adopting a fully fledged medium-term fiscal framework can help assess policy trade-offs and avoid procyclical policies. Financial sector stability can be safeguarded by strengthening macroprudential policies. Deeper Nordic-Baltic cross-border prudential arrangements and the EU banking union can enhance financial stability. Estonia needs to safeguard its external competitiveness, address skill mismatches, and accelerate human capital accumulation.
It is generally acknowledged that the government’s output is difficult to define and its value is hard to measure. The practical solution, adopted by national accounts systems, is to equate output to input costs. However, several studies estimate significant inefficiencies in government activities (i.e., same output could be achieved with less inputs), implying that inputs are not a good approximation for outputs. If taken seriously, the next logical step is to purge from GDP the fraction of government inputs that is wasted. As differences in the quality of the public sector have a direct impact on citizens’ effective consumption of public and private goods and services, we must take them into account when computing a measure of living standards. We illustrate such a correction computing corrected per capita GDPs on the basis of two studies that estimate efficiency scores for several dimensions of government activities. We show that the correction could be significant, and rankings of living standards could be re-ordered as a result.
The staff report for the 2011 Article IV Consultation concluded that a vibrant recovery marked Estonia’s first year in the euro area, albeit amid nascent tensions. The economy’s strong rebound has been grounded in a proven track record of prudent macroeconomic policies. Executive Directors endorsed that Estonia faces an increasingly challenging environment as it looks to continue implementing policies preserving macroeconomic policy credibility and safeguarding sustainable growth. They also stated that, for the financial sector, the challenge entails safeguarding stability in the context of heightened global financial tension.
The composition of short-term and medium-term adjustment measures will facilitate sufficient short-term adjustment flexibility, and be consistent with medium-term fiscal sustainability. Improving debt resolution instruments will help the banks to regain confidence in lending. Meanwhile, there is a need to consider improvements in its liquidity framework. The main factors that shaped the economic growth model in Moldova in the last decade and the risks of the current growth model are outlined. Public policies can promote growth by identifying and addressing the most binding constraints to development.