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International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

1. Social protection has become a central concern in the global policy discourse. The global crisis in 2008 triggered job losses and financial turmoil, prompting the Group of Twenty (G-20) to call for actions to “mitigate the social impact,” particularly on the poorest and most vulnerable (G-20, 2009). Attention to social protection has also been raised by recurrent commodity price shocks; by concerns about rising inequality and the implications of increasing trade openness and new technologies for displaced workers and their families; by long-running demographic trends such as aging populations; and by regional social and political stresses such as the “Arab Spring” that brought attention to the need for “inclusive growth.” In 2011, G-20 member countries recognized the importance of “social protection floors”—i.e., nationally-defined guarantees ensuring that all in need have access to essential healthcare and basic income security—and urged international organizations to enhance cooperation on the social impact of economic policies (G-20, 2011). In 2015, world leaders adopted the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), pledging to achieve, by 2030, “nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all,” among other things (UN, 2015).

International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

13. Historically, the IMF’s involvement in social issues was quite limited. The Articles of Agreement call for the institution to respect members’ domestic social and political policies in its surveillance activities.7 The Board took this caveat seriously, as evidenced in its discussions on the issue and reflected in formal guidance to staff. Social issues were not part of the IMF’s core areas of responsibility, as laid out in the operational guidelines for surveillance (see IMF, 1991). Staff were not proscribed from addressing such issues but were expected to exercise their judgment as to whether the issue was relevant for macroeconomic conditions and prospects, and to rely, as far as possible, on the expertise of other institutions such as the World Bank. On occasion, particularly since the 1990s, the Managing Director directly instructed staff to pay more attention to concern for the poor and set the tone for greater involvement in social issues by the institution, but this was not built into operational guidelines.8

International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

32. The IMF addressed an extensive range of social protection issues in Article IV consultations with a number of countries during the evaluation period. To measure coverage, this evaluation examined Board assessments in Article IV Summings Up for advice related to social protection.42 Based on Summings Up examined for all Article IV consultations concluded in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2015, this evaluation identified seven themes of IMF advice that were closely related to social protection;43 (i) reforming the pension/social security system; (ii) reforming unemployment benefits/minimum wage schemes; (iii) improving the targeting of social benefits/transfers; (iv) protecting vulnerable groups or limiting the social cost of reforms/policies/shocks; (v) protecting or creating fiscal space, i.e., increasing budgetary allocations, for social spending; (vi) strengthening the social safety net/social transfers/provision of social services; and (vii) pursuing active labor market policies. Examples of each theme are provided in Annex 2. Many Summings Up contained advice on more than one theme.44

International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

61. To incorporate social protection considerations into IMF operational work, the Board has consistently called on Fund staff to rely on the expertise of other relevant institutions (Abrams, 2017). According to economist staff surveyed by this evaluation, the World Bank was by far the IMF’s major partner on social protection issues: 80 percent of survey respondents reported interactions with Bank staff ranging from periodic or occasional meetings and information-sharing to joint missions. On the other hand, almost 75 percent and 90 percent of survey respondents respectively reported minimal to no interaction with UN agencies (including the ILO) and the OECD (Figure 12).79

International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

72. Traditionally, the IMF’s role in social protection was limited and its approach fiscal-centric. Social issues were understood to lie outside the IMF’s core areas of responsibility. Formal guidance gave staff some latitude to decide when such issues were sufficiently important to warrant attention in surveillance or programs, and IMF involvement generally aimed to improve expenditure efficiency and/or to ensure medium- or long-term fiscal sustainability. Within this fiscal approach, staff addressed concerns for the poor and the vulnerable by recommending that social benefits be effectively targeted to those most in need. On more specialized issues, such as the design and implementation of social protection schemes, the IMF relied on the World Bank or other institutions with the relevant expertise, per the Board’s direction.

International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

This paper analyzes that the IMF has moved beyond its traditional fiscal-centric approach to recognize that social protection can also be macro-critical for broader reasons including social and political stability concerns. Evaluating the IMF’s involvement in social protection is complicated by the fact that there is no standard definition of social protection or of broader/overlapping terms such as social spending and social safeguards in (or outside) the IMF. In this evaluation, social protection is understood to include policies that provide benefits to vulnerable individuals or households. This evaluation found widespread IMF involvement in social protection across countries although the extent of engagement varied. In some cases, engagement was relatively deep, spanning different activities (bilateral surveillance, technical assistance, and/or programs) and involving detailed analysis of distributional impacts, discussion of policy options, active advocacy of social protection, and integration of social protection measures in program design and/or conditionality. This cross-country variation to some degree reflected an appropriate response to country-specific factors, in particular an assessment of whether social protection policy was macrocritical, and the availability of expertise from development partners or in the country itself.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper presents an analysis of change in Zambia’s mining fiscal regime. Foreign investment has revived Zambia’s mining sector. However, its mining sector’s direct contribution to government revenues has been low. Reflecting persistent concerns about the low contribution of the mining sector to budget revenues, the government has amended the fiscal regime many times over the last seven years. The 2015 budget introduced major changes to the mining fiscal regime. The authorities estimate that the change would boost budget revenues from the mining sector by about 1 percent of GDP, based on an assumption that the change would have no adverse impact on production.
International Monetary Fund
Mozambique continues to show a strong economic performance. The inflation expectations require a tightening of the macroeconomic policy mix. Executive Directors commended the role of government in sustaining economic growth by accelerating the public investment program. Engaging development partners and civil society to make the growth strategy more inclusive and allowing Mozambicans to participate in economic growth and the determination in fighting inflation is welcome. The fuel price policy has contributed to substantial costs to Mozambique’s fiscal and external accounts, and poses future risks.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Aumento de los costos de energía, alivio de la deuda de Liberia, cambio climático, perspectivas de la economía mundial, perspectivas de la economía europea, perspectivas económicas para América Latina, Oriente Medio, perspectivas de la economía de Asia medioriental, asistencia técnica, conferencia de estudios de investigación, conferencia Mundell-Flemming, política fiscal en Alemania, Notas breves
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Hausse du coût de l'énergie ; allégement de la dette au Libéria ; changement climatique ; Perspectives de l'économie mondiale ; perspectives économiques pour l'Europe ; perspectives économiques pour l'Amérique latine ; perspectives économiques pour le Moyen-Orient et l'Asie centrale ; assistance technique ; conférence du département des études ; conférence Mundell-Flemming ; politique budgétaire allemande ; point sur l'actualité.