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International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper reviews the external competitiveness of the Belarusian economy, particularly in 2000–01. The analysis starts with an overview of developments in Belarus’ external current account. The paper then examines various competitiveness indicators, most importantly changes in external and internal real exchange rates, as well as labor cost measures. It reviews trade data by sectors to explain recent export performance. The paper also provides an overview of current wage policy and its macroeconomic effects.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

This Selected Issues paper describes the current tax system in Bhutan and suggests options for tax policy reform. Though significant hydropower revenues are expected in the medium term as major projects come on-stream, reforms to the existing tax system in the interim will generate fiscal room and prevent recourse to domestic debt to finance development needs. Key reforms include reducing tax exemptions in the near term and introduction of value-added tax in the medium term. The paper also analyzes the adequacy of international reserves in Bhutan using a customized risk-weighted metric. The results indicate that Bhutan’s reserve levels are ample.

International Monetary Fund

Burundi’s economy has continued to grow at a slower pace than envisaged owing to the impact of food and fuel shocks on aggregate demand. The macroeconomic outlook remains broadly positive but subject to risks that emanate from the security situation and the external environment. The foremost risks are a decline in donor support, warranting an abrupt fiscal adjustment, and a worsening in the security situation. These risks are mitigated in part by reforms that have improved revenue mobilization and efforts in nation building.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

First Reviews Under the Stand-By Arrangement and the Arrangement Under the Standby Credit Facility, and Request for Modification of Performance Criteria-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Honduras

International Monetary Fund

Zambia’s strong performance continues under the Extended Credit Facility-supported program. All but one of the quantitative performance criteria were met, and structural reforms are progressing. In the aftermath of exchange rate and copper price fluctuations, the financial sector’s recovery has been slow. The main macroeconomic policy challenge in future is to increase growth further by creating fiscal space for expenditures that would enhance economic diversification and reduce Zambia’s dependence on copper exports. Monetary policy appropriately targets a further reduction in underlying inflation.

Mr. Clinton R. Shiells, Mr. John R Dodsworth, and Mr. Paul Henri Mathieu
This paper explores from a regional perspective the distorted nature of trade in energy products within the CIS countries. The persistence of pricing distortions, barter arrangements, and discriminatory access to pipelines, as well as failure to honor contracts, has disrupted and distorted energy exports to non-CIS countries, undermined energy sector reforms, and distorted investment decisions. The paper focuses on cross-border issues as an integral component of the wider problem of inefficient energy use within the CIS. Several policy recommendations are proposed, including measures to foster greater competition, reduce state involvement, and promote regional cooperation.
International Monetary Fund
The IMF Executive Board’s consideration of Côte d’Ivoire’s request for additional interim assistance under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative is discussed. The 2009 fiscal targets under the program were broadly met, and all but two quantitative performance criteria for end-December 2009 were observed. The performance criterion on the overall fiscal balance was missed by a small margin. Sufficient financing assurances regarding the enhanced HIPC Initiative from other external creditors are in place and represent just over 95 percent of Côte d’Ivoire’s external debt stock at end-2007 terms.