Mr. George M Kabwe, Elie Chamoun, Riaan van Greuning, Mowele Mohlala, and Ms. Julia Cardoso
Safeguards assessments are a key pillar of the risk management arrangements for IMF lending. Safeguards assessments aim to mitigate the risks of misuse of Fund resources and
misreporting of program monetary data under Fund arrangements. Safeguards assessment reports are confidential and therefore the IMF Executive Board is provided with a periodic report on safeguards activities on a biennial basis, in addition to high-level summaries in member country staff reports on key findings and recommendations. This update on safeguards activity covers the period May 2017 to end-April 2019 (the period).
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
KEY ISSUES Context. Georgia’s previous Fund-supported program, which expired in April 2014, met most of its objectives, in particular by reducing Georgia’s external and fiscal imbalances. The program also helped preserve the central bank’s independence after the 2012–13 political transition and strengthened its inflation-targeting framework. However, over time it proved increasingly difficult to reconcile the program’s fiscal objectives with the new government’s policies of increasing social spending, especially after the economy slowed and revenues fell short in 2013. Also, despite the progress achieved under the program, macroeconomic challenges remain. The current account deficit and external debt are high, leaving the economy susceptible to shocks. Strong and inclusive growth is needed to reduce widespread poverty and high unemployment. More recently, the external outlook has worsened, opening up a balance of payments need in 2014. Program and its objectives. To address these challenges, the authorities request a new three-year SDR 100 million (67 percent of quota) Stand-by Arrangement to address an external financing need in 2014 related in part to the realignment of fiscal policies to more social spending. The program will facilitate Georgia’s external adjustment, reduce key macroeconomic vulnerabilities, rebuild policy buffers, and support growth. Program policies. In 2014, the program balances supporting domestic demand with the need to safeguard external stability. To reduce the output gap, fiscal policy provides a measured stimulus, while monetary policy remains accommodative. However, the authorities will tighten policies and allow the exchange rate to adjust if balance of payments pressures were to intensify. From 2015, the fiscal deficit will be reduced to keep public debt low and to create space for countercyclical policies. This consolidation will rely on raising revenue by broadening the tax base and containing current expenditure, while protecting pro-poor spending and public investment. Monetary policy will aim at price stability through improved inflation targeting. The program will seek to rebuild international reserves while encouraging greater exchange rate flexibility. Strengthening of the financial sector will continue, helped by the recommendations of the recent FSAP mission. The program also aims to contain risks from quasi-fiscal activities and support improvements in tax administration, and will complement the authorities’ reforms to strengthen the business environment, improve education and training, create jobs and reduce poverty and inequality.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) evaluation on International Reserves: IMF Concerns and Country Perspectives was discussed by the Board in December 2012. This evaluation examined the IMF’s analysis of the effect of reserves on the stability of the international monetary system and its advice on reserve adequacy assessments in the context of bilateral surveillance. In the multilateral context, the evaluation acknowledged the IMF’s broader work stream on the international monetary system but noted that this work had not sufficiently informed the analysis and recommendations regarding reserves. The IEO evaluation of The Role of the IMF as Trusted Advisor was discussed by the Board in February 2013. This evaluation found that perceptions of the IMF had improved, but that they varied markedly by region and country type. Recognizing that there will always be an inherent tension between the IMF’s roles as a global watchdog and as a trusted advisor to member country authorities, the evaluation report explored how the IMF could sustain the more positive image it had achieved in the aftermath of the recent global crisis. The evaluation found that among key challenges facing the IMF were improving the value added and relevance of IMF advice and overcoming the perception of a lack of even-handedness.
During the twin crises of 2008–09 Georgia’s foreign exchange reserves have been exposed to a number of external and internal drains. Its exports declined by 21 percent from peak to trough. Bank deposits declined by more than 20 percent in late 2008–early 2009, while deposit dollarization increased sharply. FDI declined from 16.4 percent of GDP in 2007 to an estimated 5 percent of GDP in 2010. Georgia was able to limit the impact of these drains on its international reserves.
This paper examines Georgia’s request for an 18-month arrangement for SDR 477.1 million, equivalent to about US$750 million, which would constitute exceptional access. IMF support to the government’s macroeconomic policies is intended to provide the needed financing to rebuild gross international reserves, and to help restore investor confidence. Monetary policy has to tackle the dilemma of providing sufficient liquidity to the banking system while stabilizing the exchange rate and avoiding an excessive loss of international reserves.
Mr. Atish R. Ghosh, Mr. Juan Zalduendo, Mr. Alun H. Thomas, Mr. Jun I Kim, Ms. Uma Ramakrishnan, and Mr. Bikas Joshi
This paper examines the various roles of IMF financing in crisis prevention. Emerging market economies that experienced financial crises in the past have been subject to enormous economic and social costs, highlighting the importance of crisis prevention. While the main defense against a crisis lies in a country’s own policies and institutional framework, the IMF can contribute to these efforts through its surveillance activities, provision of technical assistance, and promotion of standards and codes. But the IMF may be able to contribute to crisis prevention more directly by providing contingent financial support. This paper explores the theoretical basis of, and empirical evidence for, possible “crisis prevention programs.”
The IMF forged an important partnership with the Uruguayan government aiming to help the country overcome its worst financial and economic crisis. The early termination of the program is seen as a sign of success, primarily for the government and also for the IMF. The delays and the unfinished structural agenda were a disappointment. In future, the government should continue to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the favorable environment to place the economy on a sound footing, and protect it against abrupt market reversals.
The Thirteenth Review provides an opportunity to take stock of the overall adequacy of IMF resources in light of developments in the world economy and the international monetary system. The Resolution concluding the Twelfth Review indicated that the Executive Board intended, during the period of the Thirteenth Review, to monitor closely and assess the adequacy of Fund resources and to consider measures to achieve a distribution of quotas that reflects developments in the world economy and to strengthen the governance of the Fund. The latter two issues have since been taken up under the work program on quota and voice reform. Accordingly, the focus of this paper is on the adequacy of Fund resources.
This paper examines the theoretical foundations for, and empirical evidence of, Fund support in preventing capital account crises. At a theoretical level, Fund supported programs can lower the crisis probability in two ways. First, such programs provide the member with additional external reserves, making a run for the exit by private creditors less likely. Second, such programs induce and signal better economic policies, though this needs to be supported by conditionality.
This paper examines Uruguay’s Request for a Stand-By Arrangement. Although the external current account shifted to a moderate deficit, mainly reflecting the recovery in imports, export performance has been robust, and gross international reserves are now about three-fourths their pre-crisis level. The authorities’ program appropriately focuses on fiscal consolidation keeping inflation low through prudent monetary policy, promoting sound credit flows in a strengthened financial system, and other growth-oriented reforms. Key to maintaining macrostability will be achieving sufficiently large primary surpluses over the medium term to keep the public debt on a firm downward path.