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.
In Jordan, a system of general food subsidies became untenable in budgetary terms, with a sharp devaluation of the dinar in the late 1980s. A shift from a general subsidy system to limited rations would greatly reduce budgetary costs and minimize adverse effects on the poor. To reduce subsidies, the authorities had taken measures, during the course of 1990, consistent with the measures suggested. To complete the safety net, a system of self-targeting public works is suggested; a reform of the social security system might also be needed in view of the increased unemployment resulting from the recent Middle East crisis.