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Mario Mansour, Ms. Pritha Mitra, Mr. Carlo A Sdralevich, and Mr. Andrew Jewell
Fairness – and what governments can do about it – is at the forefront of economic and social debate all over the world. In MENA, this has been at the core of recent political transitions but has not been adequately addressed. This SDN explores how tax systems – a critical interface between the state and citizens – can play a role in meeting demands for greater economic fairness in MENA countries. The SDN finds that for countries with well-established non-hydrocarbon tax systems (mostly oil importers) reforms should focus on simplifying tax structures and introducing more progressivity of personal income taxes, broadening tax bases, and better designing and enforcing property taxes. Tax administration should be more efficient and user-friendly while simplifying tax regimes will reduce the scope for arbitrary implementation. MENA countries with less established non-hydrocarbon revenue systems can begin with a “starter pack” that includes introduction of low-rate value-added and corporate income taxes, excises, and property taxes while building up administrative capacity and taxation expertise together with plans for introducing a personal income tax. Across the region, effective communication, transparency, and constructive dialogue between the State and citizens are critical to the success of reforms.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Global market turmoil; Strauss-Kahn to head IMF; Global warming; Europe: Financial integration; Islamic finance; Emerging market vulnerability; Subprime turmoil: Lessons; Maghreb integration; Oil producers: Fiscal management; News briefs.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper for Algeria analyzes the potential economic impact of Algeria’s Association Agreement with the European Union (AAEU). The paper lays out the major elements of Algeria’s AAEU and makes a comparison with other AAEUs. It discusses the potential economic implications (costs and benefits) of the agreement, and elaborates economic policy issues and challenges. The paper also takes stock of Algeria’s business climate as the authorities consider the use of the fiscal space created by higher hydrocarbon revenues to tackle Algeria’s jobs challenge.
Mr. Stephen Tokarick
This paper points out that while many developing countries seek to increase their export earnings, they have not embraced fully the notion that their own pattern of import protection hurts their export performance. The paper quantifies the extent to which import protection acts as a tax on a country's export sector and finds that for many developing countries, the magnitude of the implicit tax is substantial-about 12 percent, on average, for the countries studied. The paper also illustrates the effects of various tariff-cutting scenarios in the Doha Round on export incentives and concludes that, in general, developing countries could increase their export earnings by reducing their own import tariffs, but countries must be careful about how these tariff reductions are achieved. For example, tariff-cutting schemes that exempt certain sectors could actually be harmful.
Mr. Karim A. Nashashibi
This paper reviews the fiscal revenue performance of Southern Mediterranean Arab countries (SMCs) over the last decade and compares this performance with selected middle income and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. These revenues have been declining over the past few years, and this trend is expected to continue because of a fall in mineral receipts and trade liberalization. Individual income tax yields are substantially lower than in other regions but the introduction of the value-added tax has proven to be highly successful. Higher trade protection than in other regions must be reduced, if SMCs are to be integrated into the global economy. Loss of nontax and customs revenues can be offset by reforms in income tax systems, petroleum product pricing, and by ensuring, through flexible exchange rate policies, that competitiveness is maintained

Abstract

This book brings together recent IMF research on how the Middle East and North African countries are grappling with various macroeconomic challenges. It rigorously analyzes policy alternatives for a range of relevant topics, including the implications of changing demographic trends for growth and unemployment, determinants of inflation, financial-sector reform and Islamic banking, fiscal sustainability in oil-dependent economies, exchange rate and trade arrangements, and impediments to foreign direct investment. The book’s overall theme-self-sustaining and faster growth can be achieved through comprehensive structural reforms and closer collaboration between the region’s policymakers and the international community.

International Monetary Fund
This report provides the analysis of the IMF's projections and estimates on Tunisia's basic data; sectoral distribution of GDP at constant and current prices; supply and use of resources at current and constant prices; consumer price index; balance of payments; selected exchange rate indices; revenue from the petroleum sector during 1995–2000; assets and liabilities of the central bank and deposit money banks; monetary survey; selected interest rates; direction of trade energy production and consumption during 1995–99; summary of the tax system; and so on.
International Monetary Fund
Tunisia showed strong economic performance and social achievements owing to its prudent macroeconomic policies. Executive Directors commended this development, and underscored the importance of complementing the trade liberalization with the European Union with comprehensive trade and price liberalization measures, and sustained structural reforms. They appreciated the achievement of price stability, and noted the dual role played by incomes and monetary policies. They welcomed the substantial improvements in the quality and dissemination of statistical information, and the country's subscription to the Special Data Dissemination Standard.
Ms. Maria-Angels Oliva
This paper studies the structure and evolution of trade protection in the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries in the 1990s. MENA countries use tariffs and nontariff barriers, and tariff dispersion and nontariff barriers, as substitute protection measures. Tariff levels and tariff dispersion are complements. Excluding Tunisia, the cross-country correlation between tariff and nontariff barriers is -0.46. The correlation between tariff dispersion and nontariff barriers is -0.8. The paper also develops an overall index of trade protection and finds that tariff levels, their dispersion, and nontariff barriers account for 60 percent, 10 percent, and 30 percent of overall protection, respectively.
Mr. Henri C. Ghesquière
By establishing free trade for industrial products in 12 years, the European Union’s Association Agreements with countries in the Mediterranean region seek to promote accelerated economic growth. This paper reviews the literature and evaluates the economic benefits and costs for Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan. It concludes that the benefits could be substantial, but only if accompanied by deep supplementary reforms, including extending trade liberalization to services and agriculture and on a multilateral basis, improving the environment for foreign direct investment, ensuring an adequate fiscal and exchange rate policy response, and strengthening European Union assistance.