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.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This paper examines some dimensions of the problem of income inequality. The conventional approach to income inequality is to define the problem in purely relative terms. A familiar technique for this purpose is to measure inequality by the extent to which the income share of groups of individuals or households differs from their population share. The paper examines the problem in terms of income shares of the lowest 40 percent, the middle 40 percent, and the top 20 percent of households ordinally ranked by income.
Primary commodities still account for the bulk of exports in many developing countries. However, real commodity prices have been declining almost continuously since the early 1980s. The appropriate policy response to a terms of trade shock depends importantly on whether the shock is perceived to be temporary or permanent. Our results indicate that the recent weakness in commodity prices is mostly secular, stressing the need for commodity exporting countries to concentrate on export diversification and other structural policies. There is, however, scope for stabilization funds and the use of hedging strategies, since the evidence also suggests commodity prices have become more volatile.
This paper reviews the World Bank lending for structural adjustment. The World Bank has always stressed the need to use limited investable resources efficiently. It has attempted to identify investment priorities in recipient countries and lent for projects that promised a high rate of return. The Bank’s Operational Manual defines structural adjustment lending as nonproject lending to support programs of policy and institutional change necessary to modify the structure of an economy so that it can maintain both its growth rate and the viability of its balance of payments in the medium term.
Mr. Juan P Cordoba, Mr. Robert Gillingham, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Ali M. Mansoor, Mr. Christian Schiller, and Marijn Verhoeven
This text provides guidance to policymakers on how to design and implement sound price-subsidy reforms. It draws on the experience of price-subsidy reform in 28 countries. The authors discuss economic and political considerations and make several recommendations concerning the speed of reform and social protection mechanisms. They discuss how the social impact of reform can be limited by establishing cost-effective and well-targeted temporary social protection mechanisms, and how governments can reduce the risk of political disruption by distributing the initial burden of reform fairly and by clearly explaining the costs and benefits to the public.
Mr. Joachim Harnack, Mr. Sérgio Pereira. Leite, Ms. Stefania Fabrizio, Ms. Luisa Zanforlin, Mr. Girma Begashaw, and Mr. Anthony J. Pellechio
This chapter explores the key relationships between participatory democracy and successful economic development and reviews the early steps of participatory decision making in Ghana. More generally, it sets the stage for a discussion of Ghana's main achievements and failures since 1992 in raising the standard of living of its population and reducing poverty. The high-profile political process that launched constitutional democracy in the 1990s and generated Ghana—Vision 2020 placed poverty reduction at the center of economic policy. Based on a set of price and unit labor cost indicators, Ghana's competitiveness improved in the early 1990s through 1994. The evidence for 1995–98 is quite strong. The Bank of Ghana is suspected to have used administrative means and moral suasion to influence the exchange rate, resisting the cedi's depreciation. The terms-of-trade shock forced the Bank of Ghana to focus more clearly on maintaining adequate foreign reserves. The depreciation may then have helped make the foreign exchange market more active and the nominal exchange rate more representative of market conditions.