Many developing countries must rely on taxation of the agricultural sector for a significant part of government revenue. The author discusses the policy issues involved in designing an effective system of agricultural taxation.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Upon taking office in December last year, Argentina's new government faced pervasive macroeconomic imbalances, microeconomic distortions, and a weakened institutional framework. These encompassed unsustainably high consumption levels, historically low levels of investment, and large fiscal deficits financed by money creation, which led to high inflation. Distortions at the micro level included an extensive network of administrative controls (for example, trade barriers, foreign exchange restrictions, and price controls) and a business environment that eroded competitiveness and undermined medium-term growth. There was also an important weakening of the institutional framework for economic policymaking, perhaps most evident in the loss of credibility of the national statistics agency.
The transitional program is broadly on track and quantitative program targets have been met, but structural reforms have been delayed. There are still risks to revenues and expenditures from possible judicial decisions, and the fiscal program may need to be adapted for changes in the macroeconomic framework. Monetary policy continues to face significant uncertainties, and priority needs to be given to providing a predictable regulatory framework for the banking system. Policy preparation can facilitate the transition to the new government.
Sound macroeconomic policies are key to improving market sentiment and smoothing the political transition. Implementation of structural reforms has been disappointing. The introduction of a further stay on mortgage foreclosures sends a highly negative signal about the protection of creditor rights. Continuation of a prudent fiscal policy will be the first challenge for the new administration. A cautious easing of monetary policy appears warranted given recent price and exchange rate trends. The new administration faces enormous challenges in advancing toward an appropriately comprehensive structural reform program.