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International Monetary Fund

The Selected Issues paper discusses Cambodia’s poverty and growth, private sector development, public financial management reform, and debt sustainability. It summarizes the Poverty Assessment and describes the regime of tax incentives, costs, and limits for private investment. It also summarizes the assessment of Cambodia’s Public Expenditure Management system and Public Financial Management Reform Program. It highlights the key reform priorities, and provides historical background on Cambodia’s external and domestic debt. It also includes a statistical appendix and a summary of the tax system.

Angus Deaton

Before the world can answer questions about how poverty is reduced, it needs to know how progress can be measured. But estimates of the number of the world’s poor and questions about whether it has been decreasing or increasing have given rise to one of the hottest controversies in the development community. Angus Deaton, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, who has looked in detail at India’s poverty numbers, has been at the center of this debate. He speaks here with Prakash Loungani of the IMF’s External Relations Department about the dimensions of the problem and what can be done to provide more transparent and more reliable data on the world’s poor.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Measures of poverty figure prominently in debates on the social impact ofeconomic policies and are now routinely used to design targeted interventions to fight poverty. This, coupled with the prominence given to the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the poverty rate in the world by 2015 (relative to 1990), highlights the need for close scrutiny of poverty data and measures. At a February 4 IMF Institute seminar, Martin Ravallion, Research Manager in the Development Research Group of the World Bank, reviewed current methods of measuring poverty and discussed their role in the debate over globalization’s impact on poverty and inequality.

Marijn Verhoeven, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Gerd Schwartz, Mr. Calvin A McDonald, Željko Bogetic, and Mr. Christian Schiller
This paper presents a preliminary analysis of the likely social impact of the economic crisis and the reform programs in three Asian countries—Indonesia, Korea, and Thailand. The focus is on likely changes in real consumption expenditures arising from higher inflation and increases in unemployment. The current social policy measures adopted in the reform programs should provide significant social safety nets for the poor. However, if the social impact turns out to be larger than projected, it would be worthwhile to assess cost-effective and efficient alternatives for expanding social safety nets. The paper presents some options that could be considered.
Ms. Caroline M Kende-Robb and Mrs. Alison M Scott
This paper reviews some early interim and full PRSPs for countries with which the authors worked during 1999-2000 (Uganda, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mali and The Gambia). The purpose of the review is to compare and contrast how the PRSP process was established there. It finds that rapid progress was made in implementing the initiative in all the countries, increasing commitment to poverty reduction amongst government and donors and encouraging broader participation in the policy dialogue. However, there was considerable variation between the cases, reflecting different local contexts and capacities.
Mr. Marcelo Martinez and Mr. Montfort Mlachila
The paper explores the quality of the recent high-growth episode in sub-Saharan Africa by examining the following two questions: (i) what has been the nature and pattern of SSA growth over the past 15 years and how does it compare with previous episodes? (ii) has this growth had an impact on socially desirable outcomes, for example, improvements in health, education and poverty indicators? To do this, the paper first examines various aspects of the fundamentals of growth in SSA—levels, volatility, sources, etc.—according to various country analytical groupings. Second, it explores the extent to which the growth has been accompanied by improvements in social indicators. The paper finds that the quality of growth in SSA over the past 15 years has unambiguously improved, although progress in social indicators has been uneven.
Mr. Mauricio Vargas and Santiago Garriga
We investigate the factors driving Bolivia’s success in reducing inequality and poverty during the last 15 years. Our evidence suggests that the reduction was driven mainly by labor income growth at the bottom end of the income distribution. Increases in non-labor income (rents, transfers, remittances) also played a role, but a smaller one, although the introduction of Renta Dignidad has made a big difference for the elderly poor. Labor income increases were concentrated in the informal, low-skilled service and manufacturing sectors. As the gains from the commodity boom go into reverse, and the fiscal envelope becomes much tighter, it will be essential that labor and social policies are well designed and targeted to preserve the poverty and inequality reduction of the last 15 years.