Belgium’s impressive past fiscal consolidation is an example for other countries that need to bring down their public debt and also provides insights on how best to address its own current fiscal challenges. Belgium has a unique history of a long and successful large fiscal consolidation. Belgium lived through various episodes of fiscal adjustment and each one of these contains important lessons for future consolidation. After Belgium’s public debt-to-GDP reached a peak of about 135 percent in 1993, it was steadily reduced to about 84 percent by 2007.
Economic activity picked up in the course of 1999, despite the dioxin crisis of mid-year, owing to a recovery in export markets following the world financial turmoil of late 1998, supportive monetary policy in the euro area, improvements in business and consumer confidence, and continued growth in employment. The situation in labor markets remains unsatisfactory, with a high unemployment rate and a very slow participation rate. Executive Directors commended the Belgian authorities for the marked improvement in their fiscal situation in recent years.
This paper assesses the proposal, publicly debated in recent years in Italy, to reduce public debt by selling public assets, especially nonfinancial tangible assets. The main findings indicate that, although selling public assets has some merit if done to make more productive use of them, practical complications abound. Moreover, such sales might weaken underlying fiscal discipline. Other heavily indebted countries have reduced their debt much more than Italy without heavy recourse to extraordinary sales. In this context, the case of Belgium is of particular interest. Weighing the trade-offs, if properly and transparently done, the sale of public assets can complement, to a limited extent, fiscal consolidation, but should not be considered as an alternative to it.
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.
This paper reviews economic developments in Côte d’lvoire during 1990–95. In 1994, the resumption of growth, initially concentrated in the area of some traded goods, became more widespread during the second half of 1994, offsetting the devaluation-induced contraction in the nontraded goods sectors and in the sectors sheltered from competition, which both suffered from the reduction in real disposable income. Output in volume terms increased at a rate of 4.5 percent in the primary and secondary sectors, and contracted further in the tertiary sectors.
The economic and financial pressures facing Ireland are intense. The banking sector is at the fulcrum of Ireland’s problems. The program, therefore, aims to restore the banking system. It will address structural problems and restore confidence. A leaner and more robust banking sector is the major objective. The program provides support in the transition through additional capital to banks. The credibility of the banking system will be bolstered by stringent stress and diagnostic tests. The substantial risks to the program will need to be actively managed.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Uzbekistan embarked on an ambitious reform path in 2017, starting to liberalize its economy after years of state control. Incomes are still relatively low compared to other emerging economies. Uzbekistan entered the COVID-19 crisis with relatively strong macro-economic fundamentals.
This paper discusses key findings of the First Review Under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) for Guinea. All but two quantitative performance criteria (PC) were met. IMF staff supports the authorities’ requests for waivers of nonobservance, based on their remedial actions. Progress of structural reforms was broadly satisfactory and all structural PCs and benchmarks for end-December 2007 were met. However, several quantitative indicative targets for end-March 2008 were missed, in part on account of a delayed response to the financial pressures arising from higher fuel prices.