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Ms. Shari Boyce, Mr. Sergei Dodzin, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Ms. Rosanne Heller

Abstract

This issue of the Asia & Pacific Small States Monitor focuses on the challenges facing Asia and Pacific small states associated with natural disasters and climate change. Most tourism-oriented economies experienced a robust increase in arrivals, partly reflecting country-specific factors. Among commodity exporters (Bhutan, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste) and other Asia and Pacific small states, growth remains uneven: robust activity in Bhutan was driven mainly by hydropower-related construction activities; Solomon Islands experienced a continuing decline of logging stocks and a short-term disruption of gold production; and Timor-Leste’s ongoing depletion of oil reserves has led to a tighter budget constraint and lower government spending in the non-oil sector.

Ms. Shari Boyce, Mr. Sergei Dodzin, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Ms. Rosanne Heller

Abstract

Context: Bhutan is a small, until recently fast-growing, lower middle-income country with deep economic ties to India and a peg to the Indian rupee. Growth in Bhutan was robust during the last Five-Year Plan (2008/09 to 2012/13), driven by the development of the hydropower sector (exporting electricity to India) and a credit-fueled private consumption boom.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

2017 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for the Republic of Fiji

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Selected Issues paper provides an overview of financial access and inclusion indicators, related causal factors, and both current and possible reform priorities for on Papua New Guinea (PNG). The paper presents indicators of financial market depth, development, and access for PNG and compares PNG’s performance against that of other countries in the region, at similar levels of development, and beyond. It provides an overview of country-specific challenges facing PNG related to financial inclusion that helps to explain its performance, as well as possible reform priorities in the near term. The government’s current initiatives aimed at promoting financial sector development and inclusion and their preliminary results are also discussed.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Growth has been strong in recent years and some moderation is expected, with risks skewed to the downside. High fishing revenues improved the fiscal position, but generated pressure to increase spending. There has been progress on fiscal and structural reforms. Yet, public spending needs are large, driven by an infrastructure gap and climate adaptation costs, and the country remains at high risk of debt distress.
Ezequiel Cabezon, Ms. Leni Hunter, Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello, Kazuaki Washimi, and Mr. Yiqun Wu
Natural disasters and climate change are interrelated macro-critical issues affecting all Pacific small states to varying degrees. In addition to their devastating human costs, these events damage growth prospects and worsen countries’ fiscal positions. This is the first cross-country IMF study assessing the impact of natural disasters on growth in the Pacific islands as a group. A panel VAR analysis suggests that, for damage and losses equivalent to 1 percent of GDP, growth drops by 0.7 percentage point in the year of the disaster. We also find that, during 1980-2014, trend growth was 0.7 percentage point lower than it would have been without natural disasters. The paper also discusses a multi-pillar framework to enhance resilience to natural disasters at the national, regional, and multilateral levels and the importance of enhancing countries’ risk-management capacities. It highlights how this approach can provide a more strategic and less ad hoc framework for strengthening both ex ante and ex post resilience and what role the IMF can play.
Ryota Nakatani
A big challenge for the economic development of small island countries is dealing with external shocks. The Pacific Islands are vulnerable to natural disasters, climate change, commodity price changes, and uncertain donor grants. The question that arises is how should small developing countries formulate a fiscal policy to achieve economic stability and fiscal sustainability when prone to various shocks? We study how natural disasters affect long-term debt dynamics and propose fiscal policy rules that could help insulate the economy from such unexpected shocks. We propose fiscal rules to address these shocks and uncertainties using the example of Papua New Guinea. Our study finds the advantages of expenditure rules, especially a recurrent expenditure rule based on non-resource and non-grant revenue, interdependently determined by government debt and budget balance targets with expected disaster shocks. This paper contributes to the literature and policy dialogue by theoretically analyzing the impact of natural disasters on debt sustainability and proposing fiscal rules against natural disasters and climate changes. Our fiscal policy framework is practically applicable for many developing countries facing increasing frequency and impact of natural disasters and climate change. Our rules-based fiscal framework is crucial for sustainable and countercyclical macroeconomic policies to build resilience against devastating natural hazards.
Hidetaka Nishizawa, Mr. Scott Roger, and Huan Zhang
Pacific island countries (PICs) are vulnerable severe natural disasters, especially cyclones, inflicting large losses on their economies. In the aftermath of disasters, PIC governments face revenue losses and spending pressures to address post-disaster relief and recovery efforts. This paper estimates the effects of severe natural disasters on fiscal revenues and expenditure in PICs. These are combined with information on the frequency of large disasters to calculate the rate of budgetary savings needed to build appropriate fiscal buffers. Fiscal buffers provide self-insurance against natural disaster shocks and facilitate quick disbursement for recovery and relief efforts, and protection of spending on essential services and infrastructure. The estimates can provide a benchmark for policymakers, and should be adjusted to take into account other sources of financing, as well as budget risks from less severe as well as more frequent disasters.
Mr. Si Guo and Mr. Futoshi Narita
Pacific island countries are exposed to significant risks from natural disasters. As a disaster relief measure, Fiji allowed pre-retirement pension withdrawls in the wake of Cyclone Winston in 2016. Motivated by this policy action, we provide a normative analysis of the use of early pension withdrawals after disasters, by setting up a life-cycle saving model with myopic households facing large natural disaster shocks. The model demonstrates the key trade-off between building up sufficient retirement savings and ensuring the access to savings against natural disaster shocks, and sheds light on welfare implications of early pension withdrawals.