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Jose Torres
Over the last two decades, the Peruvian government has made great efforts to improve access to health care by significantly augmenting the coverage of the non-contributory public health care system Seguro Integral de Salud (SIS). This expansion has a positive impact on welfare and public health indicators, as it limits the risk of catastrophic health-related costs for previously uninsured individuals and allows for the appropriate treatment of illnesses. However, it also entails some unintended consequences for informality, tax revenues, and GDP, since a few formal agents are paying for a service that the majority of (informal) agents receive for free. In this paper, we use a general equilibrium model calibrated for Peru to simulate the expansion of SIS to quantify the unintended effects. We find that overall welfare increases, but informality rises by 2.7 percent, while tax revenues and output decrease by roughly 0.1 percent. Given the extent of the expansion in eligibility, the economic relevance of these results seems negligible. However, this occurs because the expansion of coverage was mostly funded by reducing the spending per-insured person. In fact, we find larger costs if public spending is increased to improve the quality of service given universal coverage.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the August 2020 coup d’état have disrupted more than half a decade of strong economic performance, during which growth averaged 5 percent.1 Growth is projected to decline from 5 percent to -2 percent in 2020 both on account of the pandemic (reflecting a slowdown in external demand, travel, and FDI, as well as the impact of uncertainty and reduced mobility on domestic demand) and of post-coup disruptions in trade, transport, economic and financial flows following the sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Inflation accelerated slightly in recent months but is expected to remain below 2 percent, while the current account deficit is projected to narrow due to higher gold prices (main export) and lower oil prices (main import). Risks around the outlook are exceptionally high in light of the uncertainty surrounding the political transition, the impact of the sanctions on trade and overall activity, and continued deterioration in the security situation. Weak social safety nets amid high informality, food insecurity and a fragile healthcare system exacerbate challenges.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia region have been hit by two large and reinforcing shocks, resulting in significantly weaker growth projections in 2020. In addition to the devastating toll on human health, the COVID-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices are causing economic turmoil in the region, with fragile and conflict affected states particularlyhard-hit given already large humanitarian and refugee challenges and weak health infrastructures. The immediate priority for policies is to save lives with needed health spending, regardless of fiscal space, while preserving engines of growth with targeted support to households and hard-hit sectors. In this context, the IMF has been providing emergency assistance to help countries in the region during these challenging times. Further ahead, economic recoveries should be supported with broad fiscal and monetary measures where policy space is available, and by seeking external assistance where space is limited.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia region have been hit by two large and reinforcing shocks, resulting in significantly weaker growth projections in 2020. In addition to the devastating toll on human health, the COVID-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices are causing economic turmoil in the region, with fragile and conflict affected states particularlyhard-hit given already large humanitarian and refugee challenges and weak health infrastructures. The immediate priority for policies is to save lives with needed health spending, regardless of fiscal space, while preserving engines of growth with targeted support to households and hard-hit sectors. In this context, the IMF has been providing emergency assistance to help countries in the region during these challenging times. Further ahead, economic recoveries should be supported with broad fiscal and monetary measures where policy space is available, and by seeking external assistance where space is limited.

Irene Yackovlev, Ms. Zuzana Murgasova, Fei Liu, Gohar Minasyan, and Ke Wang
How to Operationalize IMF Engagement on Social Spending during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 Crisis