Albania continues to be severely affected by the aftermath of the November 2019 earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic. The authorities responded promptly to the shocks, and macroeconomic and financial stability have so far been maintained. The economy is expected to contract sharply in 2020, followed by a gradual recovery in 2021-22. The outlook is subject to major uncertainty and rising downside risks as a second wave is gripping many countries in Europe. Albania’s capacity to repay the Fund is adequate, but risks have risen in light of the shocks. Aside from a more severe pandemic, key risks stem from elevated public deficits and debt, weaknesses in public finances, and a relatively high level of non-performing loans (NPLs) and euroization.
This paper focuses on Albania’s Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). The RFI provides rapid financial assistance to member countries facing an urgent balance of payments need, without the need for a full-fledged economic program or reviews. A sizeable increase in the fiscal deficit of 2020 is necessary to limit the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It will be critical to ensure adequate spending for healthcare and support for the people and firms that are hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Albanian authorities remain committed to ensuring macroeconomic stability. Once the shocks have been overcome, it will be important to keep public debt on a clear downward path. The IMF staff supports the authorities’ request for financial assistance under the RFI to address the urgent balance of payments need due to exogenous shocks related to the 2019 earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic. The balance of payments financing need is expected to be temporary.