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Program implementation and economic fundamentals continue to be strong, but the external position weakened in mid-2014. Projected growth for 2014 has been revised down to 2.8 percent from 3.7 percent, due to weaker demand for Seychelles’ two main exports—tourism and canned tuna. At the same time, strong growth in personal earnings and private sector credit have fueled a surge in imports, putting further pressure on the balance of payments. As a result, the exchange rate depreciated an estimated 11 percent in nominal effective terms from early August to late-October.
This paper discusses Seychelles’ Eighth Review Under the Extended Arrangement. Economic growth and macroeconomic stability improved in 2013. A robust rise in tourism earnings supported growth, as well as a reduction in the current account deficit as a share of GDP. All performance criteria for end-June 2013, the program’s last test date, were met. All the third quarter indicative targets were also met. The measures in the structural benchmarks were all completed, although there were short delays compared with initial plans for technical reasons. IMF staff recommends completion of the eighth review under the Extended Arrangement.
The fiscal policy stance continues to be appropriate, facilitating a reduction in public debt. Seychelles has made a good start on its second stage of reforms under an Extended Fund Facility (EFF)-supported program, despite a difficult international environment, showing strong resilience to the double crisis it confronted. The economy is reaping the benefits of strong macroeconomic stabilization policies. Seychelles remains highly exposed to external shocks. Progress on the ambitious program of tax and public finance management reform is encouraging, but important steps still lie ahead.
Seychelles’s fiscal stance for 2012 allows maintaining a steady course toward debt reduction. The authorities’ decisions to downsize the loss-making national airline and raise tariffs of public enterprises are crucial steps for easing fiscal pressures and ensuring sufficient capital expenditure, in particular in much-needed infrastructure projects. Price subsidies through the Stabilization Fund will be replaced with targeted transfers to low-income households. The structural reform agenda for 2012 builds on progress made to date, focusing on taxation, public finance management, public enterprises, and the financial sector.
Seychelles's economy has recovered strongly from the debt crisis and global recession, owing to high foreign direct investment and a rebound in tourism. Inflation remained near zero, and the country continued to rebuild its international reserves and reduce public debt. In 2011, the policy mix under the economic program supported by the Extended Fund Facility has been adjusted in response to global commodity price shocks and financial difficulties of Air Seychelles. Structural reforms will focus on strengthening the financial sector and restructuring of state-owned financial institutions.
This paper discusses Seychelles’ Request for an Arrangement Under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). In the five years following the 2008 balance of payments and debt crisis, the authorities have successfully enacted a comprehensive program of reforms. Despite the success of the program, important risks and challenges remain. To face these challenges, the authorities have requested a successor EFF arrangement with the IMF. This program will help support their macroeconomic policies and protect reserve coverage over the extended period, while they carry out wide-ranging structural reforms necessary to support improvement in macroeconomic conditions, lock-in stabilization, and reduce the country’s vulnerabilities.