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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.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes remittances and households’ behavior in Guatemala. Remittances are a structural feature of the Guatemala economy. In 2017, remittance flows accounted for over 11 percent of GDP and benefitted over 1.5 million of Guatemalan households. The effects of remittances on the labor supply are estimated. There is no evidence of remittance-induced work disincentives. The results suggest that the labor supply for members of remittance-receiving households is relatively more elastic, most markedly so for the 41-65 age group: a one percent increase in weekly wages leads to a 0.5 percent increase in weekly hours worked for members of remittance-receiving households, versus 0.2 percent increase for non-remittance-receiving households.
Ms. Stefania Fabrizio, Davide Furceri, Mr. Rodrigo Garcia-Verdu, Bin Grace Li, Mrs. Sandra V Lizarazo Ruiz, Ms. Marina Mendes Tavares, Mr. Futoshi Narita, and Adrian Peralta-Alva
Despite sustained economic growth and rapid poverty reductions, income inequality remains stubbornly high in many low-income developing countries. This pattern is a concern as high levels of inequality can impair the sustainability of growth and macroeconomic stability, thereby also limiting countries’ ability to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. This underscores the importance of understanding how policies aimed at boosting economic growth affect income inequality. Using empirical and modeling techniques, the note confirms that macro-structural policies aimed at raising growth payoffs in low-income developing countries can have important distributional consequences, with the impact dependent on both the design of reforms and on country-specific economic characteristics. While there is no one-size-fits-all recipe, the note explores how governments can address adverse distributional consequences of reforms by designing reform packages to make pro-growth policies also more inclusive.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper estimates potential output growth and the output gap for Guatemala. Potential output growth averaged 4.4 percent just before the global financial crisis but has since declined to 3.75 percent owing to lower capital accumulation and total factor productivity (TFP) growth. It is estimated at 3.8 percent in 2016, and the output gap has virtually closed. Potential growth is expected to reach 4 percent in the medium term owing to the expected improvements in TFP growth. Policies should also prioritize mobilizing domestic savings to invest and build a higher capital stock.
Rodrigo Cubero and Ivanna Vladkova Hollar
How does fiscal policy fare in improving the underlying income distribution in Central America? We integrate the data from a number of existing tax and public expenditure studies for the countries in the region and find that the distributional effect of taxation is regressive but small. In contrast, the redistributive impact of social spending is large and progressive, leading to a progressive net redistributive effect in all countries of the region. We also show that raising tax revenues and devoting the proceeds to social spending would unambiguously improve the income of the poorest households.
Mr. Dominique Desruelle and Mr. Alfred Schipke
América Central ha logrado importantes avances en los últimos años al impulsar reformas económicas y profundizar la integración regional y mundial. Como resultado de estos esfuerzos, la región ha logrado aumentar el crecimiento y las entradas de capitales y reducir en alguna medida las tasas de pobreza. No obstante, América Central se mantiene vulnerable a los shocks negativos y continúa atravesando una situación de pobreza generalizada. Si bien hoy en día América Central se encuentra en mejores condiciones para afrontar esos shocks, las turbulencias actuales en los mercados financieros internacionales podrían poner en riesgo los avances logrados con tanto esfuerzo en los últimos años. Frente a estos retos, las autoridades están siguiendo de cerca los acontecimientos y tomando medidas precautorias, pero también deben seguir realizando reformas que promuevan la productividad y aplicando medidas dirigidas a reducir la desigualdad del ingreso y la pobreza.
Mr. Dominique Desruelle and Mr. Alfred Schipke
Central America has made substantial progress in recent years in moving economic reforms forward and deepening regional and global integration. As result of these efforts, the region has experienced higher growth, increased capital inflows, and some reductions in poverty rates. But Central America remains vulnerable to adverse shocks and continues to face widespread poverty. While today Central America is in better condition to face such shocks, the current turmoil in global financial markets and U.S. growth slowdown could put at risk the hard-won gains of recent years. Faced with these challenges, the authorities are monitoring developments closely and are taking precautionary measures, but they also need to continue implementing productivity-enhancing reforms and measures aimed at reducing income inequality and poverty.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This paper reviews the resurgence of Latin America. The paper highlights that much of the region has witnessed a swift and robust recovery from the successive financial crises of 2001–02. Within two years, the region’s economic growth reached 5.6 percent in 2004, a 24-year high. Growth rates of about 4 percent in 2005 and 3¾ percent projected for 2006 are well above historical averages. Mexico and South American countries have gained, in particular, from the surge in fuel, food, and metals prices, and have generally been able to exploit these opportunities by expanding production.
International Monetary Fund


International standards for measuring foreign direct investment (FDI) have become important in today’s global economy, where multinational enterprises exercise economic clout and FDI statistics can reflect investor sentiment about the climate of investment in a country. This joint IMF/OECD report assesses progress toward standardization in the compilation of FDI statistics and provides information on statistical methodologies in 61 countries. The report is based on data from the 2001 update of the joint IMF/OECD Survey of Implementation of Methodological Standards for Direct Investment (SIMSDI), which covers 30 OECD countries and 31 other IMF member countries