Quasi-fiscal deficits of public utility companies are common in all member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). They constitute a significant impediment to efficient resource allocation and endanger macroeconomic stability. This paper presents a simple framework for measuring and monitoring such deficits and highlights their macroeconomic relevance. It reviews the progress under IMF conditionality aimed at correcting these imbalances during 1993-2003. The paper suggests that the extensive conditionality under the IMF-supported programs has yielded only limited progress in reducing the energy sector's financial imbalances. In conclusion, different policy options are discussed in light of the lessons learned.
Systemic tax administration problems in many developing countries have led to a search for radical solutions. One such proposed solution is tax farming. Tax farming is a system wherein the right to collect taxes is auctioned off to the highest bidder. An analysis of the historical experience with tax farming shows that its purported administrative efficiency is largely illusory. While certain aspects of tax administration may be suitable for privatization, the classic form of tax farming would appear to have little attraction for a modern state concerned with justice and equity.
With the start of the process of its transition to a market economy in early 1990, Romania joined the ranks of other reforming Eastern European countries. At the starting point of its reform program, however, Romania was in a deep economic and institutional crisis and had no experience in even modest attempts to reform its economy. This paper outlines the main characteristics of the Romanian economic system before the reform, and presents the evolution of the reform program, as well as its achievements in the first year or so since it was launched.
This paper reviews the experiences of a few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that have succeeded in attracting fairly large amounts of foreign investment. The review indicates that sustained efforts to promote political and macroeconomic stability and implement essential structural reforms have been the key elements contributing to the success that certain countries in Africa have achieved in attracting a substantial volume of FDI. Strong leadership, which has helped promote democracy and overcome social and political strife, and a firm commitment to economic reform have been important determinants. The adoption of sound fiscal and monetary policies, supported by an appropriate exchange rate policy, and a proactive approach to removing structural impediments to private sector activity have had a positive bearing on investor sentiment. The analysis underscores the importance of relying on stability and a broad-based reform effort to encourage foreign investment in Africa.
Mr. Saleh M. Nsouli, Mr. Mounir Rached, and Mr. Norbert Funke
This paper reviews the issues involved in determining the appropriate speed of adjustment and the sequencing of economic reforms, focusing on considerations relevant to policymakers. It points out that the debate between the protagonists of a high-speed approach and those favoring a gradualist approach is based primarily on the weights given to adjustment costs, policy credibility, reform feasibility, and risk assessment. It underscores the importance of appropriate sequencing and the impact of sequencing on the speed of adjustment and reforms. The paper concludes by highlighting factors that policymakers should consider when selecting their approach toward speed and sequencing.