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Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Robin Koepke, and Jasper Verschuur
This paper proposes an easy-to-follow approach to track merchandise trade using vessel data and applies it to Pacific island countries. Pacific islands rely heavily on imports and maritime transport for trade. They are also highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters that pose risks to ports and supply chains. Using satellite-based vessel tracking data from the UN Global Platform, we construct daily indicators of port and trade activity for Pacific island countries. The algorithm significantly advances estimation techniques of previous studies, particularly by employing ways to overcome challenges with the estimation of cargo payloads, using detailed information on shipping liner schedules to validate port calls, and applying country-specific information to define port boundaries. The approach can complement and help fill gaps in official data, provide early warning signs of turning points in economic activity, and assist policymakers and international organizations to monitor and provide timely responses to shocks (e.g., COVID-19).
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.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This paper presents Solomon Island’s Requests for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument and Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility. In order to address the pandemic, the Solomon Islands’ authorities have taken measures to prevent the entry of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), to increase health and containment spending, and to provide targeted support for vulnerable households and businesses. IMF financing will help fill immediate financing needs and catalyze additional financing from its development partners to support the COVID-19 response. The authorities’ immediate policy response has focused on strong and timely containment measures to limit the risk of a local outbreak while reprioritizing spending toward health care. They have also adopted a fiscal stimulus package with measures targeted at providing social assistance, protecting jobs and incomes and stabilizing the domestic economy. Beyond the immediate response to the external shock, the authorities should remain committed to policies that promote inclusive growth and resilience while containing external pressures, protecting financial stability and preserving fiscal sustainability.