International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Iraq's socio-economic fragilities have been severely aggravated by the pandemic and the sharp decline in oil revenues, which arrived on the heels of widespread social unrest and political instability. The health system’s limited capacity has been strained, while the fiscal position has become untenable as oil revenues declined sharply to a level that barely covers the government’s large wage and pension bills. Although the number of new infections declined recently, Iraq registered the second-highest COVID-related fatalities in the region, and the fiscal response to the pandemic has been one of the lowest. A six-month political paralysis preceding the formation of the government in May 2020 and plans to hold early parliamentary elections in mid-2021 have been weighing on political support for reforms. Risks of social unrest, geopolitical tensions, and insecurity remain elevated.
There have been significant developments in sovereign debt restructuring involving private-sector creditors since the IMF’s last stocktaking in 2014.
While the current contractual approach has been largely effective in resolving sovereign debt cases since 2014, it has gaps that could pose challenges in future restructurings.
Macroeconomic costs of conflict are generally very large, with GDP per capita about 28 percent lower ten years after conflict onset. This is overwhelmingly driven by private consumption, which falls by 25 percent ten years after conflict onset. Conflict is also associated with dramatic declines in official trade, with exports (imports) estimated to be 58 (34) percent lower ten years after conflict onset. The onset of conflict often also induces significant refugee outflows to neighboring non-advanced countries in the short run, and relatively small but very persistent refugee outflows to advanced countries over the long run. Finally, we stress that conflict should be defined in terms of the number of people killed relative to the total population. The traditional definition of conflict—based on the absolute number of deaths—skews the sample toward low-intensity conflicts in large countries, thereby understating the negative effects of conflict from a macroeconomic perspective.
This paper discusses Central African Republic’s (CAR) Request for a Three-Year Arrangement Under the Extended Credit Facility. Consistent with the IMF’s Country Engagement Strategy, the IMF-supported program is expected to support the implementation of the peace agreement and of CAR’s medium-term development strategy. Its main objectives are to maintain macroeconomic stability, strengthen administrative capacity, governance, and the business climate, and address CAR’s protracted balance of payments needs. Fiscal policy will focus on revenue mobilization, spending prioritization, and strengthening public financial management, with a view to allow, over the medium term, the durable financing of CAR’s considerable security, social, and infrastructure spending needs. Structural reforms will aim at improving the government’s capacity to design and implementing policies and reforms, at enhancing governance, including through strengthening anticorruption institutions, and at removing bottlenecks and regulatory impediments to private investment. The new arrangement will also help catalysing external concessional financing from other development partners, which is critical to support CAR’s path out of fragility. The IMF will also continue its extensive capacity development on priorities that are aligned with the program objectives.