This 2005 Article IV Consultation reports that Belarus experienced strong economic growth in 2004, supported by policies aimed at raising incomes and credit, and a favorable external environment. Inflation was halved during 2004, and slowed down further to 11 percent in April 2005, aided by a balanced budget, exchange rate stability, and continued remonetization. Although the economy’s current momentum is likely to result in significant growth in 2005, its long-term prospects are uncertain in the absence of wide-ranging structural reforms and a phasing out of massive quasi-fiscal activities.
Christine J. Richmond, Ms. Dora Benedek, Ezequiel Cabezon, Bobana Cegar, Mr. Peter Dohlman, Michelle Hassine, Beata Jajko, Piotr Kopyrski, Maksym Markevych, Mr. Jacques A Miniane, Mr. Francisco J Parodi, Gabor Pula, Mr. James Roaf, Min Kyu Song, Mariya Sviderskaya, Rima Turk, and Mr. Sebastian Weber
The Central, Eastern, and South Eastern European (CESEE) region is ripe for a reassessment of the role of the state in economic activity. The rapid income convergence with Western Europe of the early 2000s was not always equally shared across society, and it has now slowed dramatically in many countries of the region.
This study, another in the series focusing on special issues in transition, reviews the experience of output decline and recovery in the 25 countries of eastern and central Europe and the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Although these countries began the process of economic transformation with similar circumstances of output decline, the extent of decline, its duration, and the sustainability of recovery in growth varied considerably. The authors explore the factors behind this variation and find that the most important policies promoting early and sustained recovery were ones that supported financial stabilization and structural reforms in key areas such as private sector development, the tax system, economic liberalization, and secure property rights.
The transition from predominantly socialist ownership and central planning to a market economy with private ownership is a complex process involving profound changes in the political, economic, institutional, legal, and social domains. While there may not be a simple unifying theme to capture this complexity, the quest for economic recovery and sustained growth is certainly an important common thread for all the transition countries. This paper reviews the record of growth performance in 25 countries, comprising central and eastern Europe (CEE) and the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union (BRO).
A revival of interest in economic growth in the mid-1980s led to the development of a new wave of models that established a synthesis now known as endogenous growth theory, which has produced a large volume of empirical studies of growth. The first element of this synthesis is the earlier prevailing doctrine on economic growth, the “neoclassical” model of Solow-Swan and Cass-Koopmans from the 1950–60s, which attributed growth to the expansion of capital and labor, augmented by exogenous technological progress. Simple factor input and factor productivity calculations of the sources of growth are based on this paradigm and continue to be used widely, including in many IMF background studies.
The 25 countries of CEE and the BRO4 have been undergoing a process of transition from a centrally planned to a market-oriented economy for the better part of a decade. While this transition has been dependenl in all cases on major changes in the political system, particularly during 1989–91, there have been considerable differences across countries in the speed with which the old system of planning has been dismantled and market-oriented reforms have been introduced. In a few countries, such as Hungary and Poland, a number of market-oriented reforms were well under way long before 1989, and in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia a relatively high degree of market liberalization had existed for some time. In some countries, such as Belarus, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, comprehensive market-oriented reforms have hardly yet begun.
Lithuania achieved significant progress in macroeconomic stabilization and structural reforms, under the previous Stand-By Arrangement. Executive Directors welcomed the new program, which aimed at maintaining macroeconomic stability, promoting private sector activity, and strengthening external viability in order to attain sustainable growth and create employment opportunities. They stressed the need to implement fiscal and structural reforms. They agreed that the authorities are following an appropriate approach of preparing a medium-term fiscal framework, determining priorities, and seeking ways to achieve the medium-term goal of a balanced budget.
That recovery has begun much earlier in some countries and still has not started in others, and that the rate of recent growth varies considerably among countries, speaks to the view that recovery and sustained growth are not an automatic or cyclical rebound. Several issues concerning the transition and growth are elaborated here:The applicability of conventional explanations of growth in market economies;The effect of special initial conditions in the transition;The contribution of government policies, in particular financial stabilization and structural reforms;The sustainability of growth; andThe time pattern of reforms—gradual or more rapid, early or delayed.
This paper highlights that despite unprecedented gains in living standards in some countries over the past few decades, poverty continues as a harsh reality in too much of the developing world. The causes lie in part with poor country governments that have not followed through on the policies and programs needed to accelerate growth and eradicate poverty. But they also reflect the uneven record of development assistance and protectionist trade policies and agricultural subsidies in industrial countries, which have dampened profitable investment and growth in the developing world.
This 2009 Article IV Consultation highlights that Belarus has so far escaped a significant fall in output, despite a sharp fall in external demand. GDP declined 0.5 percent year over year in the first eight months of 2009, comparing favorably to Belarus’ main trading partners. Economic activity has been bolstered by strong domestic demand, especially for housing construction financed under government programs. Executive Directors have applauded the authorities’ commitment to a tight fiscal policy, with revenue shortfalls being offset by spending restraint while protecting priority social spending.