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Hites Ahir, Hendre Garbers, Mattia Coppo, Mr. Giovanni Melina, Mr. Futoshi Narita, Ms. Filiz D Unsal, Vivian Malta, Xin Tang, Daniel Gurara, Luis-Felipe Zanna, Linda G. Venable, Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, and Mr. Chris Papageorgiou
Despite strong economic growth since 2000, many low-income countries (LICs) still face numerous macroeconomic challenges, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the deceleration in real GDP growth during the 2008 global financial crisis, LICs on average saw 4.5 percent of real GDP growth during 2000 to 2014, making progress in economic convergence toward higher-income countries. However, the commodity price collapse in 2014–15 hit many commodity-exporting LICs and highlighted their vulnerabilities due to the limited extent of economic diversification. Furthermore, LICs are currently facing a crisis like no other—COVID-19, which requires careful policymaking to save lives and livelihoods in LICs, informed by policy debate and thoughtful research tailored to the COVID-19 situation. There are also other challenges beyond COVID-19, such as climate change, high levels of public debt burdens, and persistent structural issues.
The Spring-Summer 2019 issue of the IMF Research Perspectives explores how technology deals with old questions. Articles discuss the ways technological progress and the increased availability of data have helped in some areas, while presenting new challenges for analyzing various matters. The issue also includes an interview with Gita Gopinath, the new director of the IMF Research Department.
Lisbeth Rivas and Mr. Joe Crowley
Statistical agencies worldwide are increasingly turning to new data sources, including administrative data, to improve statistical coverage. Administrative data can significantly enhance the quality of national statistics and produce synergies with tax administration and other government agencies, supporting better decision making, policy advice, and economic performance. Compared to economic censuses and business surveys, administrative data are less burdensome to collect and produce more timely, detailed, and accurate data with better coverage. This paper specifically explores the use of value added tax and income tax records to enhance the compilation of national accounts statistics.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper assesses the sustainability of Zambia’s current fiscal policies and public debt. Large fiscal imbalances and rapid increase in government debt since 2011 have raised concern about the sustainability of fiscal policies in Zambia. Fueled by the rapid exchange rate depreciation in 2014–15 and the heavy reliance on external sources to finance the growing fiscal imbalances, public external debt doubled in 2015 compared with 2014. The institutional framework for the budget process and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework need to be strengthened. Poor commitment controls, which led to significant accumulation of payment arrears, need to be addressed. A sound Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy is required to reduce public sector debt vulnerability.
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
This Technical Assistance Report discusses the technical advice and recommendations given by the IMF mission to the authorities of Uganda about the concepts and methods used to compile the consumer price index (CPI). The conceptual basis of the rebased CPI was extensively discussed during the IMF mission. The rebasing was considered to be an opportunity to change the conceptual basis of the CPI and to compile weights using the domestic concept. The Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) data were compared with household consumption derived in the supply and use tables. Tobacco and beer for instance are significantly underreported in the UNHS. Adjustment of the weight for under- or overreporting by comparing the UNHS data to other sources is recommended.
Ms. Louise Fox
This paper reviews the evidence on how households in Sub-Saharan Africa segment along consumption, income and earning dimensions relevant for quantitative macroeconomic policy models which incorporate heterogeneity. Key findings include the importance of home-grown food in the income and consumption of house-holds well up the income distribution, the lack of formal financial inclusion for all but the richest households, and the importance of non-wage income. These stylized facts suggest that an externally-generated macroeconomic shock and the short-term policy response would mainly affect the behavior and welfare of these richer urban households, who are also more likely to have the means to cope. Middle class and poor households, especially in rural areas, should be insulated from these external shocks but vulnerable to a wide range of structural factors in the economy as well as idiosyncratic shocks.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper on Uganda discusses that the National Development Plan (NDP), Uganda’s current Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, was introduced in 2010/11 and originally intended to cover five fiscal years, until 2014/15. The NDP emphasises the need to accelerate economic growth to create jobs, increase average income and provide the financial resources required to expand public investment and service delivery. However, several macroeconomic and implementation challenges have reduced infrastructure investment, economic growth and job creation below the levels targeted by the plan. The key strategic objectives of the plan will be maintained over the next two years, with focus placed on strengthening public investment management, creating fiscal space for infrastructure projects and enhancing the development of practical skills among the labour force. The recalibrated macroeconomic framework outlined in Section IV will help guide fiscal policy and economic management as the next National Development Plan is being finalised. NDP II will be launched before the 2016/17 fiscal year and will guide budgetary priorities and programmes over the medium term.