Let me welcome all of you to the Czech Republic and to Prague. My welcome extends to the official participants in the Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, to all business people, bankers, economists, political scientists, environmentalists, thinkers, journalists, and, indeed, to all people of good will who have come here because this is an occasion to discuss and possibly also to help determine our common future. This country and its capital city are greatly honored to be the venue of this major assembly, which brings together thousands of people from all countries and continents—including persons wielding a far-reaching influence—in the very year that the commonly used chronology views as a turn of ages. For us it means an honor, a joy, as well as a great challenge, and a major commitment. I trust that Prague—hosting such a gathering of a truly global significance for the first time in more than a thousand years of its history—will offer a good environment for the deliberations and will be reflected favorably both in the memory of its participants and in the history of global cooperation. Surely this city possesses certain historical prerequisites. Over the course of centuries—among other things because of its geographical position in the center of Europe—it has witnessed not only confrontations and conflicts but also creative encounters, mutual respect, reciprocal influence, and cooperation among various cultures; various peoples and ethnic groups; and various spiritual currents and social movements. This pluralism has helped to shape its visage. It would be good if, after decades of oppression, of life without freedom, of bent backs, and of imposed isolation, we succeeded in rediscovering this ancient tradition and offered this city as a congenial setting for the world’s open debate about itself.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
In a statement issued on March 8, IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus announced his intention to recommend to the IMF Executive Board that it approve the revised economic program for 1999-2001 proposed by the Brazilian government. The text of News Brief 99/10 follows.
Meetings of the Joint Development Committee were held jointly with the Board of Governors of the Bank. The sessions of the Annual Meetings were held jointly with the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group.
Close to 130 countries—with the notable exception of the United States—have adopted the value-added tax (VAT) over the past 30 years or so. The VAT is a broad-based tax on all domestic sales that allows businesses to take a credit or receive a refund for the tax charged on their inputs so as to ensure that the tax bears only on final domestic consumption. The distinctive structure of this powerful source of revenue gives rise to special problems of control—an issue that formed part of the agenda of a March 14-16 conference held in Rome, organized by the International Tax Dialogue (ITD) —a joint initiative of the IMF, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Bank (see box).
San Marino showed enviable growth performance. Despite the positive economic developments, the central government budgetary balance has moved into a substantial deficit on an accruals basis, because of tax collection difficulties and rapidly rising outlays on generous entitlement programs. Executive Directors noted that reforms of the pension and health care systems were required to maintain the country's sound fiscal position. They welcomed the authorities' plans to strengthen banking supervision, adopt a legal framework to fight against money laundering, and improve statistics and accounting.
This 2004 Article IV Consultation for San Marino reports that the economy has slowed considerably since 2000 with the fading of key competitive advantages that had contributed to past rapid development. To restore a positive net asset position and the ability to buffer adverse external shocks, the authorities aim at maintaining the budget in balance or in surplus over the medium term while preserving tax rate advantages. To sustain fiscal consolidation with unchanged or lower tax rates, remaining tax administration problems need to be addressed and generous entitlement programs reformed.