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International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that economic outcomes in Sierra Leone have deteriorated sharply over the past two years. Growth declined dramatically from 20.7 percent in 2013, to 4.6 percent in 2014, and further to -21.1 percent in 2015. The budget is under severe pressure. Between mid-2014 and end-2015, the Leone depreciated 22 percent against the U.S. dollar. Banking sector vulnerabilities have increased. Living standards have also deteriorated significantly since late 2014. The medium-term outlook is somewhat positive, with growth projected to recover to 4.3 percent in 2016, increasing gradually to about 6.5 percent by 2020.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

2018 Article IV Consultation, Fifth Review Under the Extended Credit Facility Arrangement, Request for Waivers for Nonobservance of Performance Criteria, and Financing Assurances Review

Mr. Arvind Subramanian and Mr. Gunnar Jonsson
This paper examines the empirical relationship between trade and total factor productivity (TFP) in South Africa. It uses (i) a time series approach where trade is defined in terms of aggregate outcomes, i.e., as the share of imports plus exports in GDP, and (ii) a cross sectional approach, where trade is defined in terms of trade policy, i.e., as actual trade protection across different manufacturing sectors. The results indicate that there is a significant positive relationship between trade and TFP growth both over time and across sectors.
Gianluca Esposito, Mr. Sergi Lanau, and Sebastiaan Pompe
The inefficiency of the Italian judicial system has contributed to reduced investments, slow growth and a difficult business environment. The enforcement of civil and commercial claims suffers from excessive delays in court proceedings, resulting in a very large number of pending cases. The Italian authorities have over the years taken steps to remove bottlenecks and speed up judicial proceedings. While these measures are generally steps in the right direction, more can be done. Consideration could be given, inter alia, to reviewing court fees, improving the new mandatory mediation scheme, strengthening court management, and reforming the appeal system.
Luis Franjo, Nathalie Pouokam, and Francesco Turino
In this paper we build a model of occupational choice with informal production and progressive income taxation. We calibrate the model to the Brazilian economy to evaluate the impact of removing financial frictions on informality. We find that financial deepening leads to a drop in the size of the informal sector (from 37 percent to 22 percent of official GDP), to an increase in measured TFP (by 4 percent), to an increase in official GDP (by 27 percent), to a decrease in tax evasion (by 17 percent) and to an increase in fiscal revenues (by 15 percent). When assessing the response of this policy at different levels of financial development, we find a non-linear relationship between the credit-to-GDP ratio on the one hand, and either the size of the informal economy, or GDP per capita on the other hand. We test these features with cross-country data and find evidence in favor of both types of non-linearity. We also investigate changes in the income tax progressitivity as an alternative policy and find it to be more effective in countries with a medium to high level of financial markets development.
Mr. Ewe-Ghee Lim
This paper summarizes recent arguments/findings on two aspects of foreign direct investment (FDI): its correlation with economic growth and its determinants. The first part focuses on recent literature regarding positive spillovers from FDI while the second deals with the determinants of FDI. The paper finds that while substantial support exists for positive spillovers from FDI, there is no consensus on causality. On determinants, the paper finds that market size, infrastructure quality, political/economic stability, and free trade zones are important for FDI, while results are mixed regarding the importance of fiscal incentives, the business/investment climate, labor costs, and openness.
Maksym Ivanyna and Andrea Salerno
The government’s ability to deliver inclusive growth crucially depends on the quality of governance. This paper reviews the linkages between governance and inclusive growth, and key policies to improve governance. The policies include (1) structural reform, automation, improving rules and procedures (including for fiscal and monetary policies) to limit the discretion and hence the space for policy errors; (2) human resource policies, capacity building, effective anti-corruption frameworks to incentivize public officials to make decisions in the best public interest; and (3) transparency, accountability, and inclusive political institutions to inform and monitor policymaking.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

KEY ISSUESContext: Since the last Article IV Consultation in 2012, notable progress has been achieved to enhance macroeconomic stability, underpinned by the Fund-supported program. However, continued progress could be tested as the country faces a more challenging environment, due to increasing social and political tensions and frequent strikes in the run-up to the 2015 elections. Moreover, recent political developments reinforce uncertainties surrounding external budget support.Program: The Executive Board approved the three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) on January 27, 2012, with a total access of SDR 30 million. The first, second, third, and fourth reviews were completed on July 27, 2012, February 14, 2013, September 6, 2013, and February 28, 2014, respectively. For the fifth review, all end-March performance criteria were observed, but fiscal revenues underperformed in the first quarter of 2014 requiring corrective fiscal measures (about 1 percent of GDP on an annual basis). Satisfactory progress has been made on structural reforms, albeit with some delays.Outlook and risks: The medium-term macroeconomic outlook is challenging. The principal near-term risk is an intensification of election-related uncertainty, economic disruptions and violence, which would affect investment and growth. Governance issues or delays in making measurable progress in public financial management (PFM) reforms, and heightening of political tensions could curtail donor support. Reintegrating repatriated refugees is likely to add to unemployment pressures, increase demand for public services, and exacerbate social conflict over access to land.Staff Views: The staff recommends the completion of the fifth review under the ECF arrangement, setting of revised performance criteria and indicative targets for September�December 2014, and disbursement of SDR 5 million. The authorities have consented to the publication of this report following the completion of the review.