Mr. Bernardin Akitoby, Mr. Jiro Honda, and Keyra Primus
Raising revenues has been a formidable challenge for fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS), a fact confirmed once again in the COVID-19 crisis. Nonetheless, achieving sizable gains in tax collection in fragile environments is not impossible. This paper—with empirical analyses and case studies—contributes to policy discussions on tax reform in such challenging environments. Our analyses show that many FCS achieved some recovery of tax revenues, even though they found it challenging to sustain the momentum beyond three years. We also find that changes in the quality of institutions (e.g., government effectiveness and control of corruption) are a key contributory factor to their tax performance (much more so than for non-FCS). Next, we look into the tax increase episodes of four countries (Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, and the Solomon Islands). Although each FCS is unique, their experiences suggest two lessons: (i) tax reforms can be pursued even with initially weak institutions; and (ii) strong political commitment is important to sustain reform efforts and realize long-lasting, sizable gains.
This Selected Issues paper benchmarks Malawi’s public spending and identifies areas where there is scope to improve expenditure efficiency. Malawi performs poorly in health and education spending efficiency. Spending in these areas will need to be stepped up to achieve better living standards and higher, more inclusive growth. A rebalancing of the composition of education and health spending—including greater prioritization of low cost-high impact spending and balancing maintenance against capital spending—would yield immediate results in both health and education. Strengthening the public expenditure management chain, especially procurement and supply management, will be important. These reforms would go hand in hand with greater fiscal transparency and accountability in these sectors.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economy of Malawi recently rebounded from two years of drought. Growth picked up from 2.3 percent in 2016 to an estimated 4.0 percent in 2017 owing to a recovery in agricultural production. Inflation has been reduced below 10 percent owing to the stabilization of food prices, prudent fiscal and monetary policies, and a stable exchange rate. Economic growth is expected to increase gradually, reaching over 6 percent in the medium term. Growth will be supported by enhanced infrastructure investment and social services as well as an improved business environment, which will boost confidence and unlock the economy’s potential for higher, more broad-based, and resilient growth and employment.
This Economic development Document presents an overview of Malawi’s Development Plan. Disappointing results with respect to implementation of Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II have triggered a qualified rethink in Malawi’s development planning process. There is a growing recognition that Malawi needs a more realistic development plan, in terms of both the underlying assumptions and resource availability, as well as with fewer priorities and a greater emphasis on implementation. Climate change has also become a major new factor in this process. The recent formation of a quasi-independent National Development and Planning Commission is expected to help in improving the independence of the planning process in Malawi.
In this paper we provide short- and long-run tax buoyancy estimates for 107 countries
(distributed between advanced, emerging and low-income) for the period 1980–2014. By means
of Fully-Modified OLS and (Pooled) Mean Group estimators, we find that: i) for advanced
economies both long-run and short-run buoyancies are not different from one; ii) long run tax
buoyancy exceeds one in the case of CIT for advanced economies, PIT and SSC in emerging
markets, and TGS for low income countries, iii) in advanced countries (emerging market
economies) CIT (CIT and TGS) buoyancy is larger during contractions than during times of
economic expansions; iv) both trade openness and human capital increase buoyancy while
inflation and output volatility decrease it.
This Selected Issues paper develops a framework to study the macroeconomic and distributional implications of alternative Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) reforms in Malawi. The FISP is one of the largest social expenditure items in Malawi, aimed at improving food security and reducing poverty. The FISP program targets poor rural households and provides them with a coupon for a predetermined amount of fertilizer at a heavily subsidized rate. The results of the study discussed in this paper show how policies that seek to improve the efficiency of expenditure can be consistent with higher and more equitable growth. It also focuses on the macroeconomic and distributional impacts of reducing the subsidy rate for the FISP.