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International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that the Ebola epidemic and the fall in commodity prices have revealed the vulnerabilities of Liberia's economy. After barely positive growth in 2014, GDP was flat in 2015 mainly owing to the decline in activity in the iron ore and rubber sectors. Although international gross reserves increased in 2015, the Central Bank of Liberia's net foreign exchange position declined owing to operational deficits and exceptional support to the banking sector. In 2016, growth is expected to rise to 2.5 percent, thanks to a rebound in services and the start of gold production, while inflation should stay in the single digits.

Ms. Corinne C Delechat, Mr. John W Clark JR, Pranav Gupta, Ms. Malangu Kabedi-Mbuyi, Mr. Mesmin Koulet-Vickot, Ms. Carla Macario, Mr. Toomas Orav, Mr. Manuel Rosales Torres, Rene Tapsoba, Dmitry Zhdankin, and Ms. Susan S. Yang
Like other fragile sub-Saharan African countries, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are seeking to harness their natural resource potential in the context of ambitious development strategies. This study investigates options for scaling up public investment and expanding social safety nets in a general equilibrium setting. First, it assesses the macro-fiscal implications of alternative fiscal rules for public investment, and, second, it explicitly accounts for redistribution through direct cash transfers. Results show that a sustainable non-resource deficit target is robust to the high uncertainty of resources output and prices, while delivering growth benefits through higher public investment. The scaling-up magnitudes, however, depend on the size of projected resource revenue and absorptive capacity. Adding a social transfer raises private consumption, suggesting that a fraction of the resource revenue could be used to expand safety nets.
Mr. Alan H. Gelb, Mr. Arnaud Dupuy, and Mr. Rabah Arezki
This paper studies the optimal public investment decisions in countries experiencing a resource windfall. To do so, we use an augmented version of the Permanent Income framework with public investment faced with adjustment costs capturing the associated administrative capacity as well as government direct transfers. A key assumption is that those adjustment costs rise with the size of the resource windfall. The main results from the analytical model are threefold. First, a larger resource windfall commands a lower level of public capital but a higher level of redistribution through transfers. Second, weaker administrative capacity lowers the increase in optimal public capital following a resource windfall. Third, higher total factor productivity in the non-resource sector reduces the degree of des-investment in public capital commanded by weaker administrative capacity. We further extend our basic model to allow for "investing in investing" - that is public investment in administrative capacity - by endogenizing the adjustment cost in public investment. Results from the numerical simulations suggest, among other things, that a higher initial stock of public administrative "know how" leads to a higher level of optimal public investment following a resource windfall. Implications for policy are discussed.
Mr. Saji Thomas and Mr. Arnim Schwidrowski
Countries generally tax the forestry sector to achieve the twin objectives of revenue maximization and sustainability of logging levels. In an ideal world of perfect markets and information, auctions would be the best instrument to determine the price of extraction rights. However, a number of factors-including a lack of information on the forest resources under consideration, uncertainties as to the stability of property rights over time, and a lack of access to credit-have limited the use of auctions so far, particularly in low-income countries. To establish transparency of the forestry sector's financial flows, this paper discusses a radical simplification of Liberia's current timber tax structure, including a proposal to reduce the sector's current tax system to two instruments, an area tax and an export tax.
Mr. Montfort Mlachila and Ms. Misa Takebe
Despite the rapid increase in FDI flows to LICs, there have been relatively few studies that have specifically examined these flows. This paper attempts to partially fill the void by throwing light on one particularly dynamic aspect of global FDI-flows from Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICs). The paper finds that official data sources undoubtedly underestimate the volume and scope of FDI flows as many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not always register their investment. As a result, while it is difficult to estimate accurately the growth impact of BRIC FDI, there is case study evidence that it is increasingly significant. Second, while initial investment, mostly by state-owned companies, has often been destined for natural resource industries, over time, investment has been spreading to agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries (e.g., telecommunications). Third, FDI from BRICs flows into many non resource-rich countries in LICs and plays a significant role in growth in those countries.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

This Selected Issues paper discusses initiatives to promote export diversification and growth in Liberia. Liberia's exports have been very concentrated in the past, but some progress in export diversification has been made in recent years, mostly in the enclave sectors. The government has launched the Liberia Agricultural Transformation Agenda (LATA) to support diversification and transformation. LATA strives to build up the agricultural sector as well as adopt a supportive industrial policy. Improving business climate and external competitiveness could play an important role in increasing export diversification in Liberia. Efficiency could also be increased through better access to markets and technology, cheaper imported inputs, as well as more competition with imports.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix paper examines recent economic developments and medium-term outlook for Liberia. This paper focuses on economic developments during 2003 and 2004 and the medium-term challenges of reconstruction. The paper explores the pros and cons of adopting full (de jure) dollarization in Liberia. It reviews the theoretical arguments for and against adopting dollarization and the associated empirical evidence. The choices of monetary and exchange rate regimes made by other post-conflict countries are presented. The paper also assesses whether Liberia, in its current post-conflict situation, could benefit from dollarization.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

The 2012 Article IV Consultation with Liberia discusses the economic developments and policies of the country. Liberia recorded strong macroeconomic performance under the three-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) Arrangement, but poverty continued to be pervasive. The short- to medium-term outlook has remained favorable, although subject to considerable risks. Following resumption of iron ore exports in 2011, real GDP growth is estimated at 9 percent in 2012, supported by strong growth in the mining sector and expansionary fiscal policy for infrastructure investment. IMF staff supports the authorities’ request for a successor arrangement under the ECF.