This chapter reviews the distributional impact of agricultural sector reforms in Africa. African governments have intervened in the agricultural sector for decades, but generous pricing policies and operational inefficiencies have often necessitated large budgetary transfers to parastatals. Over the past 20 years many African countries attempted to liberalize their agricultural sector, with mixed success. This chapter describes the forms of government intervention in agricultural markets, the liberalizing reforms undertaken in the past 20 years, the channels by which these reforms affected stakeholders, and the outcomes of the reforms on poor households.100
It is common for governments in developing countries to manipulate prices of goods and services using a range of policy instruments and institutional arrangements. The motivations behind these price manipulations reflect varying objectives, such as the need to raise revenue, the desire to redistribute income toward the poor or toward politically important groups, the desire to provide protection to domestic producers, or the desire to influence the levels of supply or demand in other related markets where prices cannot easily be influenced.17 For example, the major source of revenue in most developing countries is commodity taxation such as domestic sales and excise taxes and taxes on international trade (Burgess and Stern, 1993; and Keen and Simone, 2004); food prices are often kept artificially low for consumers in order to increase the real incomes of poor households (Pinstrup- Andersen, 1988; and Gupta and others, 2000); and public sector prices (e.g., of electricity, gas, petroleum, coal, other fuels, fertilizers) are also often controlled by governments, reflecting either the perceived strategic importance of these inputs for development or the need to provide these sectors with an independent source of revenue and thus greater financial autonomy (Julius and Alicbusan, 1986).
Trade liberalization and devaluation (TLD) policies have always been present in many IMF-supported programs. Tariffs, quotas, and other trade restrictions reduce the level of trade and tend to foster the development of import substitute industries that often fail to attain the degree of efficiency and flexibility shown by firms continuously exposed to international competition.66 Programs tend to promote the removal of trade restrictions in order to improve resource allocation and growth outcomes in the medium term. Devaluation policies in IMF programs tend to play a shorter-term adjustment role instead. The objective is in most cases to restore external viability by switching expenditures from the nontradables sector to the tradables sector.
The Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) is used by the IMF to provide support for countries’ implementation of their poverty reduction and growth strategies. A key requirement in the design of PRGF programs is understanding the effects of reform program measures on vulnerable groups—particularly the poor—and how to devise measures to mitigate any negative effects. Poverty and social impact analysis (PSIA) is a critical instrument for pursuing this goal. The IMF has therefore established a small group of staff economists to facilitate the integration of PSIA into PRGF-supported programs. In this book, the group’s members review analytical techniques used in PSIA as well as several important topics to which PSIA can make valuable contributions. These reviews should prove useful and interesting to readers interested in PSIA in general and the IMF’s PSIA efforts in particular.
The poverty and social implications of macroeconomic and structural reform policies are increasingly being recognized in IMF-supported programs and IMF policy advice. In 1999, the IMF replaced the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility, its assistance program for supporting low-income countries, with the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), which explicitly gives poverty alleviation more prominence in its operations. In addition to its focus on promoting macroeconomic stability and growth, the PRGF program focuses on the relationship between macroeconomic policies and their poverty implications.
What is the human cost of the global economic crisis? How many people will the crisis prevent from escaping poverty, and how many will remain hungry? How many more infants will die? Are children being pulled out of schools, making it virtually impossible to reach 100 percent completion in primary education by 2015? What are the gender dimensions of the impacts? These are some of the questions as the global economy comes out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the CIS-7 faced exceptional challenges in building new states, democratic institutions, and market economies. All of the CIS-7 started from a situation of complex dependency on the Soviet Union, including massive transfers and subsidies and the trade arrangements of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA). The shocks associated with the breakup—notably the disruption of economic relations with established regional partners, termination of large fiscal transfers, and severe energy price adjustments—compounded the problems of severe structural rigidities and weak institutions.
More effective integration into the world trading system is part of the transition from central planning to markets. Based on market forces, international trade promotes more efficient resource allocation and increased productivity and growth—necessary conditions for sustainable poverty alleviation. The low-income CIS-7 countries started the transition with different resource endowments but with similar protectionist policies that isolated their economies from the rest of the world and created large distortions in prices and resource allocation.
David Kennedy, Samuel Fankhauser, and Martin Raiser
Energy and water have emerged as critical issues for the CIS-7 countries—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—and their neighbors for at least two reasons. The first is that energy and water constitute the region’s main natural resources, and the exploitation of both was and still is a key to these countries’ mode of production. The second is that the distribution of these resources is very unequal across countries. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan benefit from rich energy reserves, while Armenia, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan have substantial water resources. This unequal distribution gives rise to potential gains from trade but it is also the source of recurrent conflict between neighboring states in the region. Energy and water issues are closely linked given that the latter can be used, inter alia, for hydropower generation and/or irrigation. Use of water in the municipal sector is not discussed in this chapter. Replenishment of the Aral Sea as an alternative to irrigation is consistent with increased winter hydro generation, discussed below under “Unlocking the Benefits from Trade.”