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Mr. Bernardin Akitoby, Mr. Jiro Honda, and Keyra Primus
Raising revenues has been a formidable challenge for fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS), a fact confirmed once again in the COVID-19 crisis. Nonetheless, achieving sizable gains in tax collection in fragile environments is not impossible. This paper—with empirical analyses and case studies—contributes to policy discussions on tax reform in such challenging environments. Our analyses show that many FCS achieved some recovery of tax revenues, even though they found it challenging to sustain the momentum beyond three years. We also find that changes in the quality of institutions (e.g., government effectiveness and control of corruption) are a key contributory factor to their tax performance (much more so than for non-FCS). Next, we look into the tax increase episodes of four countries (Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, and the Solomon Islands). Although each FCS is unique, their experiences suggest two lessons: (i) tax reforms can be pursued even with initially weak institutions; and (ii) strong political commitment is important to sustain reform efforts and realize long-lasting, sizable gains.
Ms. Stefania Fabrizio, Davide Furceri, Mr. Rodrigo Garcia-Verdu, Bin Grace Li, Mrs. Sandra V Lizarazo Ruiz, Ms. Marina Mendes Tavares, Mr. Futoshi Narita, and Adrian Peralta-Alva
Despite sustained economic growth and rapid poverty reductions, income inequality remains stubbornly high in many low-income developing countries. This pattern is a concern as high levels of inequality can impair the sustainability of growth and macroeconomic stability, thereby also limiting countries’ ability to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. This underscores the importance of understanding how policies aimed at boosting economic growth affect income inequality. Using empirical and modeling techniques, the note confirms that macro-structural policies aimed at raising growth payoffs in low-income developing countries can have important distributional consequences, with the impact dependent on both the design of reforms and on country-specific economic characteristics. While there is no one-size-fits-all recipe, the note explores how governments can address adverse distributional consequences of reforms by designing reform packages to make pro-growth policies also more inclusive.
Mr. Paolo Dudine and João Tovar Jalles
In this paper we provide short- and long-run tax buoyancy estimates for 107 countries (distributed between advanced, emerging and low-income) for the period 1980–2014. By means of Fully-Modified OLS and (Pooled) Mean Group estimators, we find that: i) for advanced economies both long-run and short-run buoyancies are not different from one; ii) long run tax buoyancy exceeds one in the case of CIT for advanced economies, PIT and SSC in emerging markets, and TGS for low income countries, iii) in advanced countries (emerging market economies) CIT (CIT and TGS) buoyancy is larger during contractions than during times of economic expansions; iv) both trade openness and human capital increase buoyancy while inflation and output volatility decrease it.
Mr. Giovanni Melina, Ms. Susan S. Yang, and Luis-Felipe Zanna
This paper presents the DIGNAR (Debt, Investment, Growth, and Natural Resources) model, which can be used to analyze the debt sustainability and macroeconomic effects of public investment plans in resource-abundant developing countries. DIGNAR is a dynamic, stochastic model of a small open economy. It has two types of households, including poor households with no access to financial markets, and features traded and nontraded sectors as well as a natural resource sector. Public capital enters production technologies, while public investment is subject to inefficiencies and absorptive capacity constraints. The government has access to different types of debt (concessional, domestic and external commercial) and a resource fund, which can be used to finance public investment plans. The resource fund can also serve as a buffer to absorb fiscal balances for given projections of resource revenues and public investment plans. When the fund is drawn down to its minimal value, a combination of external and domestic borrowing can be used to cover the fiscal gap in the short to medium run. Fiscal adjustments through tax rates and government non-capital expenditures—which may be constrained by ceilings and floors, respectively—are then triggered to maintain debt sustainability. The paper illustrates how the model can be particularly useful to assess debt sustainability in countries that borrow against future resource revenues to scale up public investment.
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.
International Monetary Fund
This report highlights the growth and macroeconomic policies in Malawi, and also analyzes the interaction between aid flows and macroeconomic stabilization policy. The paper reviews the country's recent trade reform program and summarizes other associated reforms and changes in the pattern of trade. It provides a survey of selected studies on the direct impact of HIV/AIDS on mortality and morbidity, measures of their possible effects on output, growth, and the fiscal position, and also a statistical appendix is provided for the country.
Mr. Reint Gropp, Mr. Liam P. Ebrill, and Ms. Janet Gale Stotsky

Abstract

The apparent contradiction between trade liberalization and continuing high trade tax revenue raises the important question of how, precisely, the one affects the other. Although policymakers generally recognize the long-term benefits of trade liberalization, some have argued for at least a slower pace, in part because of revenue concerns. This paper seeks to address these issues in three complimentary ways: through an overview of the factors that may have a bearing on the question, through a review of trends in trade tax revenue both globally and in selected countries, and through econometric analysis.

Mr. Michael Keen and Ms. Jenny E Ligthart
A key obstacle to fundamental tariff reform in many developing countries is the revenue loss that it ultimately implies. This paper establishes a simple and practicable strategy for realizing the efficiency gains from tariff reform without reducing public revenues, showing that for a small open economy, a cut in tariffs combined with a point-for-point increase in domestic consumption taxes increases both welfare and public revenues. Increasingly stringent conditions are required, however, to ensure unambiguously beneficial outcomes from this reform strategy when allowance is made for such important features as nontradeable goods, intermediate inputs, and imperfect competition.

Abstract

Edited by Zubair Iqbal and Mohsin Khan, this volume is a collection of papers given at a seminar on trade issues in Africa, conducted by the IMF nad the African Economic Research Consortium. It represents the views of government officials, academics, and representatives from multilateral and regional agencies on issues relating to trade reform and regionalism in Africa. Issues include the role of trade liberalization in promoting sustained growth, interdependence of trade and macroeconomic policies, impediments to effective trade reforms, the steps needed to accelerate trade reform, and the importance of regional interaction.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This paper examines the difference between “capital” and “investment” for developing countries. The paper highlights that investment in material capital is merely one of the factors involved in economic development and that current expenditures on health, education, agricultural extension, family planning, research, management training, and so on, may be equally important or even more important than investment in capital. The paper offers a brief historical survey, drawing attention to factors leading to the development of a market where savers and investors are brought together.