The COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe impact on Eswatini’s economy at a time when the country is already facing deep economic challenges, and the government has begun fiscal consolidation efforts. A national lockdown to contain the spread of the virus, disruptions in supply chains, and lower external demand for key exports are curtailing economic activity. While the authorities’ policy response has been timely and proactive, the economic shock and containment policies are triggering
a severe recession with significant social costs, and have created urgent balance of payments needs. The pandemic is unfolding in a context of high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and a stretched health care system, which increase Eswatini’s vulnerability.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
In the past two decades, Paraguay has seen strong growth and a sharp reduction in poverty. Strong GDP growth was the result of sound macro policies (with low inflation and low fiscal deficits and debt) and an agricultural commodity price boom which spilled over to the non-tradable sector. Growth was not just high but also volatile, as bad weather shocks led to poor harvests, which spill over to the broader economy. In early 2020, Paraguay was rebounding strongly from another weather shock, and full-year growth was forecast at over 4 percent. In 2019, bad weather had reduced the harvest, and GDP growth had come to a near standstill. A recovery started in the second half of 2019 and gathered strength in early 2020—in February economic activity was 7 percent higher than a year earlier. The Covid-19 epidemic halted the recovery. An early lockdown—which kept the death toll among the lowest in the region—led to a sharp contraction in economic activity, with April activity levels at 20 percent below those in February. Women, informal sector workers, and workers in the service sector were particularly hard hit; while children were severely affected by the closing of the schools until the end of 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an adverse impact on Rwanda’s economy, despite a sizeable policy response. Output in 2020 is projected to contract by 0.2 percent, compared to an 8 percent increase expected pre-pandemic. The government’s early actions helped contain the spread of the virus and mitigate its economic impact, supported by financing from Rwanda’s development partners, including from the IMF under the RCF. With the number of infections contained, the authorities are gradually easing up containment measures.
Although the pandemic has remained fairly contained in Senegal, its economic impact has been severe. Strong fiscal and monetary policy support has helped bolster the health system and cushion the economic shock, with additional fiscal spending exceeding 3 percent of GDP. The IMF disbursed US$442 million (100 percent of quota) under the RFI/RCF in April to support the crisis response. An ambitious 2021–23 economic recovery plan aims to build a more resilient economy and support inclusive and private sector-led growth. WAEMU Finance Ministers agreed to return to the 3 percent of GDP fiscal deficit anchor more gradually (by 2023) owing to the pandemic’s impact and the security challenges in the Sahel.
This paper discusses Malawi’s Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF). The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic is having a severe impact on Malawi, creating an urgent balance of payments need. The authorities have been proactive in mitigating the impact of the pandemic, including through increased spending on health care and social assistance, supporting small and medium enterprises, bolstering farmers’ incomes and ensuring food security through purchase and storage of agricultural harvests, and easing liquidity constraints in the banking system. The IMF’s emergency financing under the RCF is expected to help the authorities meet the large external financing gap and catalyze further assistance from the international community. Additional concessional donor support will be critical to close the remaining external financing gap and facilitate the needed interventions to ease the economic and social impacts of the pandemic, while preserving Malawi’s hard-earned macroeconomic stability. A widening of the budget deficit is appropriate in the near-term, given the fiscal costs associated with the economic slowdown and critical additional health care and social spending needs, which should be executed transparently and targeted to the most affected parts of society.
COVID-19 has had a severe economic impact on Rwanda through the implementation of strict domestic measures to contain the spread of the virus and the related global spillovers. The authorities have responded by rolling out health and economic measures totaling USD 311 million (3.3 percent of GDP) to mitigate the impact on businesses and households. To help address the urgent balance of payments need arising from the pandemic, the Executive Board approved on April 2 and June 11, 2020 the authorities’ consecutive requests for emergency financing under the “exogenous window” of the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) totaling SDR 160.2 million (IMF Country Reports No. 20/115 and No 20/207). This brings the total IMF COVID-19 support to Rwanda to 100 percent of quota, or USD 220.46 million.
Recent economic developments. Notwithstanding a sizeable policy response, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant adverse impact on Serbia’s economic activity, with output in 2020 projected to contract by 3 percent, compared to a
4 percent increase expected prior to the COVID-19 shock. The shock is affecting the economy through lower external demand, weaker foreign direct investment and remittances, disruptions in regional and global supply chains, and domestic supply constraints. The government took strong actions to contain the pandemic at an early stage, but the number of infections accelerated again towards end-June. As a result, some containment measures have been re-introduced.
Recent economic developments. Economic activity recovered following a severe contraction in 2Q2020 caused by the pandemic. Real output in 2020 has been revised up and is now projected to contract by only 1.5 percent, on the back of positive highfrequency indicators. Inflation remains low. The banking system remains liquid. After the two waves in March and July, the number of new infections has accelerated again since mid-October, reaching record-high levels and a larger-than-expected deterioration presents a clear downside risk.