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Ding Ding, Samira Kalla, Mr. Manuel Rosales Torres, and Abdoul Karim Sidibé
The pervasive use of tax incentives is costly for the Caribbean countries, yet the benefits seem limited. Better policy coordination at the regional level is needed to help overcome the collective action problems and generate more revenue to support the much-needed infrastructure investment. Using the region’s Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) programs as an example, we also show that a price-quantity coordination mechanism can help achieve an efficient outcome with greater CBI incomes for member countries.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper presents IMF’s 2019 Discussion on Common Policies of Member Countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). ECCU’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth accelerated from 3/4 percent in 2017 to 3 3/4 percent in 2018, reflecting buoyancy in the tourism sector, sizable Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) inflows, and a recovery from the 2017 hurricanes in Anguilla and Dominica, which were supported by large public investments in reconstruction. Fiscal deficits increased in 2018–2019, but they have remained moderate. Efforts are needed to streamline, and re-balance tax incentives based on clear principles consistent with international best practices. External imbalances are sizable and significant financial sector vulnerabilities affect both banks and non-banks. Growth is projected to gradually moderate toward its long-term average of 2 1/4 percent as the cyclical momentum normalizes and CBI inflows ease. These trends would also contribute to wider fiscal deficits, ending the downward drift in public debt dynamics. The outlook is clouded by downside risks, including a possible intensification of natural disasters and financial sector weaknesses.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Article IV Consultation highlights that following the opening of a modern international airport, signs of an economic recovery have emerged, with increased direct flights from major cities in the United States and Canada and renewed interests from foreign investors in tourism projects. The overall fiscal balance has improved over the past few years, and the debt to GDP ratio fell in 2017 for the first time since 2007. However, despite these positive developments, St. Vincent and the Grenadines faces challenges in sustaining the growth momentum over the longer-term. Like other Caribbean economies, its high exposure to natural disasters, limited land, narrow production and exports base, weak business competitiveness, and limited physical and human capital constrain potential growth. The financial system remains broadly stable but has vulnerable spots in the non-bank financial sector. It is important to implement structural reforms to foster private sector activity, by improving the investment environment and strengthening physical and human capital.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper presents a quantification of the long-term benefits of ex-ante resilient investment and insurance needs against natural disasters (ND) in Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). Cost-benefit analysis of resilient investment based on a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model tailored to small states and calibrated to all ECCU economies is also discussed in the paper. The model’s aggregate production function illustrates the interaction among the participating sectors and their contribution to output, ultimately informing the role of resilient investment. The study also quantifies government insurance coverage needs and costs using an empirical stochastic model that simulates NDs fiscal costs. The insurance needs are framed within the World Bank insurance layering framework. The results in this paper underscore the importance of a shift from ex-post recovery to a focus on ex-ante resilience building. Ex-ante resilient investment and insurance are key to the welfare and financial sustainability of the ECCU, given high intensity and recurrence of NDs.
Mr. Bernardin Akitoby, Ms. Anja Baum, Clay Hackney, Olamide Harrison, Keyra Primus, and Ms. Veronique Salins
How do countries mobilize large tax revenue—defined as an average increase in the tax-to-GDP ratio of 0.5 percent per year over three years or more? To answer this question, we build a novel dataset covering 55 episodes of large tax revenue mobilization in low-income countries and emerging markets. We find that: (i) reforms of indirect taxes and exemptions are the most common tax policy measures; (ii) multi-pronged tax administration reforms often go hand in hand with tax policy measures or are stand alone; and (iii) sustainability of the episodes hinges on tax administration reforms in the key compliance areas (risk-based audits, registration, filing, payment, and reporting).
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that growth in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2017 is expected to remain relatively flat. The current account deficit is expected to narrow reflecting additional profit repatriation by telecommunication companies. The domestic banking system remains stable, but credit to the private sector has been flat. The fiscal situation is projected to worsen substantially in 2017 owing to a projected decline in tax revenue after exceptional receipts in 2016 and higher outlays for transfers, subsidies and public investment. Growth is expected to pick up to 2.1 percent in 2018 and reach its potential over the medium-term.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This IMF Staff Report for the 2016 Discussion on Common Policies of Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) Member Countries highlights that the regional recovery in ECCU is gaining ground, supported by continued low oil prices, strong tourism arrivals, and robust citizenship-by-investment receipts. Risks to the near-term outlook are balanced, but growth in the ECCU continues to be hindered by weak competitiveness, banking sector fragilities, susceptibility to natural disasters, and large public debt. The Executive Directors have encouraged the authorities to press ahead with sound macroeconomic policies and structural reforms to decisively address these issues and strengthen the conditions for robust long term growth.
Mr. Sebastian Acevedo Mejia
This paper studies the economic costs of hurricanes in the Caribbean by constructing a novel dataset that combines a detailed record of tropical cyclones’ characteristics with reported damages. I estimate the relation between hurricane wind speeds and damages in the Caribbean; finding that the elasticity of damages to GDP ratio with respect to maximum wind speeds is three in the case of landfalls. The data show that hurricane damages are considerably underreported, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, with average damages potentially being three times as large as the reported average of 1.6 percent of GDP per year. I document and show that hurricanes that do not make landfall also have considerable negative impacts on the Caribbean economies. Finally, I estimate that the average annual hurricane damages in the Caribbean will increase between 22 and 77 percent by the year 2100, in a global warming scenario of high CO2 concentrations and high global temperatures.
Mr. Sebastian Acevedo Mejia, Lu Han, Miss Marie S Kim, and Ms. Nicole Laframboise
This paper studies the role of airlift supply on the tourism sector in the Caribbean. The paper examines the relative importance of U.S.-Caribbean airlift supply factors such as the number of flights, seats, airlines, and departure cities on U.S. tourist arrivals. The possible endogeneity problem between airlift supply and tourist arrivals is addressed by using a structural panel VAR and individual country VARs. Among the four airlift supply measures, increasing the number of flights is found to be the most effective way to boost tourist arrivals on a sustained basis. As a case study, the possible crowding effect of increasing the number of U.S. flights to Cuba is investigated and, based on past observations, we find no significant impact on flights to other Caribbean countries. The impact of natural disasters on airlift supply and tourist arrivals is also quantified.