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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

This paper discusses Cyprus’ First Review Under the Extended Arrangement Under the Extended Fund Facility and Request for Modification of Performance Criteria. The program is on track, and ownership by the authorities has improved. Fiscal targets were met with a comfortable margin. All structural benchmarks were also observed, albeit some with a brief delay. The authorities have made important strides to complete the bank resolution process, publish a roadmap to gradually ease payment restrictions, and finalize a restructuring strategy for the cooperative credit sector. However, much remains to be done to fully implement the financial sector restructuring strategy and restore confidence in the system.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses reforms that could generate higher revenues from the non-oil sector through measures to rationalize the tax code, broaden the tax base, and increase administrative efficiency. These efforts should be complemented by economic diversification policies that support non-oil growth and thereby expand the potential tax base. The paper also reflects on lessons learned from other country experiences that could be relevant for the Republic of Congo. The authorities should step up revenue mobilization as a key component of their medium-term fiscal strategy. This will require a well-sequenced structure of reforms that includes three key elements. First, the newly created Tax Policy Unit in the Ministry of Finance should reduce institutional fragmentation and facilitate the design, coordination and implementation of a medium-term revenue strategy. Second, the government should urgently address the erosion of the tax base generated by an excessive and discretionary use of tax exemptions that do not comply with existing laws and regulations. Finally, the government should continue to focus on rationalizing the tax code, and increasing administrative efficiency to recover tax arrears, including through the modernization of existing income tax systems.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
Selected Issues
Xavier Sala-i-Martin
This paper analyses the role of social safety nets in the form of redistributional transfers and wage subsidies. It is argued that public welfare programs can be viewed as a crime-preventing or disruption-preventing devices because they tend to increase the opportunity cost of engaging in crime or disruptive activities. It is shown that, in the presence of a leisure choice, wage subsidies may be better than pure transfers. Using a simple growth model, the optimal size of the public welfare program is found and it is argued that public welfare should be financed with income (not lump-sum) taxes, despite the fact that income taxes are distortionary. The intuition for this result is that income taxes act as a user fee on congested public goods and transfers can be thought of as productive public goods subject to congestion. Finally, using a cross-section of 75 countries, the partial correlation between transfers and growth is shown to be significantly positive.
Mr. V. Hugo Juan-Ramon and Mr. Carlos M. Asilis
Reforming economies have typically placed little attention on the impact of illegal activities on the success of reform/stabilization packages and optimal policy design. This paper aims at developing a framework in which to assess an economy’s response to alternative stabilization/reform packages as a function of the scope of corruption activities. The framework developed herein is a basic one in which only the most fundamental questions (such as the effects of anti-corruption government policies on output and welfare) are examined. The more interesting questions of the optimal design of stabilization and economic reform policies remain to be addressed in future extensions of the model. The framework also accommodates political-economy analysis, and is able to explain why, even when able to eliminate corruption activity altogether, governments may choose not to do so. Our framework differentiates between developing and developed economies according to the income share accruing to capital, as is common in the literature. In equilibrium, the effect of anti-corruption penalties on the economy’s capital stock is greater in developing countries; in particular, we find that the elasticity of the steady state average per capita stock of capital with respect to increases in anti-corruption penalties is increasing in the income share accruing to capital. The model also shows that reductions in public good output, as a fraction of the economy’s total expenditure, lead to larger welfare decreases when in the presence of corruption.
Jihad Dagher, Mr. Ralph Chami, Mr. Peter J Montiel, and Mr. Yasser Abdih
This paper addresses the complex and overlooked relationship between the receipt of workers' remittances and institutional quality in the recipient country. Using a simple model, we show how an increase in remittance inflows can lead to deterioration of institutional quality - specifically, to an increase in the share of funds diverted by the government for its own purposes. Empirical testing of this proposition is complicated by the likelihood of reverse causality. In a cross section of 111 countries we document a negative impact of the ratio of remittance inflows to GDP on domestic institutional quality, even after controlling for potential reverse causality. We find that a higher ratio of remittances to GDP is associated with lower indices of control of corruption, government effectiveness, and rule of law.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

Macroeconomic conditions are broadly favorable: the output gap is almost closed; the fiscal and current account deficits are at sustainable levels; and unemployment continues to fall. Nevertheless, GDP growth has slowed recently, hampered by a weak external environment, diminishing productivity gains, and delays in EU funds absorption. Credit growth remains elusive, wage pressures have surfaced, and the gray economy remains pervasive.