International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & Review Department
The Debt Limits Policy (DLP) establishes the framework for using quantitative conditionality to address debt vulnerabilities in IMF-supported programs. In October 2020, the Executive Board approved reforms to the DLP which will enter into effect on June 30, 2021. The risk-based approach to setting debt conditionality informed by Debt Sustainability Analyses under the previous DLP approved in 2014 is maintained. The reforms aim to provide countries with more financing flexibility in practice while still adequately containing debt vulnerabilities through appropriate safeguards. This note provides operational and technical guidance related to the implementation of the DLP, including the operationalization of the approved reforms. In particular, it outlines the core principles underpinning the DLP, including when debt conditionality in IMF-supported programs is warranted and how to account for country-specific circumstances in the design of debt limits. The note also describes the process of setting and implementing debt conditionality, including: (i) identifying debt vulnerabilities to inform the focus of debt conditionality; (ii) designing debt conditionality; and (iii) implementing debt conditionality through the review cycle. The Guidance Note is intended for use by both IMF staff and country officials. In this regard, in addition to the guidance presented in the main body, the note also contains several annexes that cover definitional, technical, and operational issues arising in the determination and implementation of public debt limits.
The global economy is embarking on a lengthy path to recovery with modest growth expected for 2021, after a severe contraction this year. The global forecast is subject to unusually large risks. Emerging markets and developing economies face an uphill battle. Low-income developing countries are in an especially vulnerable position and risk a persistent and significant deterioration in development prospects.
Controlling the pandemic and cushioning the impact on the economy are key. LIDCs should adopt targeted containment measures and strictly prioritize spending and refrain from policies that could create long term damage. Multilateral cooperation and extensive support from the international community are indispensable.
The IMF has helped EMDEs through emergency lending and debt service relief. Targeted surveillance and capacity development will tackle new policy challenges and react nimbly to the needs of the membership including fragile and small states.
Guinea is making good progress in recovering from a long period of social unrest and military rule. Macroeconomic imbalances have been reduced, major structural reforms are under way, and long-neglected infrastructure is being rebuilt. However, the political transition process is still incomplete, with parliamentary elections having been delayed, and social tensions persist. Guinea remains vulnerable to developments in international markets, but risks are mitigated by long-term mining contracts; the key food import is rice, where recent international price increases have been modest and where agricultural reforms seek to boost domestic production.
The 2009 reforms have broadly achieved their objective of closing gaps and creating a streamlined architecture of facilities that is better tailored to the diverse needs of LICs. Supported by the financing package to boost the PRGT’s lending capacity for 2009–14 and the accompanying doubling of access, the Fund was able to mount an effective response to LICs’ needs during the global financial crisis.
This paper examines the consideration of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe’s debt relief at the completion point under the enhanced Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries and Debt Relief under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. Lower-than-projected export receipts largely owing to drought conditions and lower-than-expected tourism receipts, changes in cross-currency exchange rates, and variations in discount rates have been all unambiguously exogenous and outside the control of the authorities. There is need for continued fiscal prudence, policies to support broad-based growth and export diversification, continued donor support, and prudent debt management.
The low-income country debt crisis had its origins in weak macroeconomic policies, and official creditors’ willingness to take risks unacceptable to private lenders. Payments problems were initially addressed through nonconcessional reschedulings and new lending that maximized financing while containing the budgetary costs for creditors. This led to an unsustainable buildup in debt stocks. More recently, debt ratios have improved, reflecting both adjustment and substantial debt relief. The paper estimates debt relief initiatives since 1988 have cost creditors at least $30 billion, and possibly much more. This compares with the estimated costs of about $27 billion under the enhanced HIPC Initiative.