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International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

This paper reviews the influence of the tropical climate on economic development. The paper highlights that the effect of climate is clearly not the only ruling constraint on economic development. It is claimed that climatic factors severely hamper development through their impact on both human beings and their agriculture. Human economic activity is directly and adversely affected through the widespread extent and impact of diseases; and tropical agriculture suffers in the quality of its soils, its rainfall, and its multiplicity of pests and diseases.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix analyzes the reasons behind the relatively low rates of savings in Bulgaria and prospects for their evolution over the medium term. The paper argues that low saving rates largely reflect the current stage of transition—characterized by still low income levels, incomplete structural reforms, the memories of the financial and banking crises of 1996–97, and an adverse demographic structure. An analysis of prospective saving rates indicates that as the transition process advances, saving rates may increase by 5 percentage points over the medium term.

International Monetary Fund

This paper discusses Bulgaria’s prospects for converging to the living standards of the more advanced members of the European Union (EU). The unfavorable economic environment of the early 1990s and the economic crisis in 1996–97 hurt Bulgaria’s output, employment, and investment. Following the crisis, structural reforms and a sound macroeconomic framework set the stage for a sustained recovery. The structure of the Bulgaria economy has shifted markedly over the last decade, and investment has become the main engine of growth.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper discusses the self-funding model of the National Securities and Stock Market Commission (NSSMC) in Ukraine. There are a number of challenges with NSSMC’s funding and the constraints placed on it through the Ukrainian government budget process. The analysis conducted by the NSSMC and reviewed by the mission confirms the general benefits of moving to a self-funding model for the NSSMC. The legislative measures should be complemented by improvements in the NSSMC systems and processes. Self-funding of securities and other financial services regulators is increasingly becoming the international norm. The trend to self-funding is even more pronounced within Europe.
International Monetary Fund
This paper provides an assessment of Greece’s competitiveness, export performance, and national saving and investment. It examines the Greek tax ratio and structure, and places them in the EU context. It also reviews the design of the various tax categories, and identifies the scope for further simplifying the tax system and broadening the tax base. The paper discusses that it would be desirable to raise the tax ratio through expanding the tax base before considering raising tax rates.
Mr. Vito Tanzi
The transition from a command to a market economy requires profound reforms of the tax system. Such a transition will put downward pressures on the level of taxation at a time when public expenditure remains high. This paper outlines the main characteristics of the tax systems in centrally-planned economies. It describes recent changes in those tax systems. Finally, it discusses the major difficulties that will be faced, and the errors that must be avoided, during the transition.
Ms. Ratna Sahay, Mr. Carlos A. Végh Gramont, and Mr. Stanley Fischer
The current destination of Central and Eastern European countries—explicitly for some, implicitly for all—is Brussels. The concept of the distance from Brussels is multi-dimensional. One simple measure, not without theoretical and empirical justification, is physical distance. This paper’s focus, however, lies more in the distances in time and economic space. The paper first compares income gaps between Central and Eastern European and European Union (EU) countries, then evaluates recent economic performance in Central and Eastern Europe in light of EU standards. Finally; addresses the question of how long it will take the Central and Eastern European countries to close the income gap with EU countries.
Ms. Nora K Markova
The study examines the effect of health care reform in Bulgaria in 1999 on the equity of health care financing. It explores the distribution of different types of health care financing by income. Furthermore, it separates the financial and social reasons for these differences, dividing them into economic and social inequalities. It suggests a method of distinguishing between financially based and "exclusion based" reasons for having progressive/regressive health care financing. Moreover, it looks at the social factors that shape health expenditure patterns and identifies those social characteristics that lead to exclusion from the health care system.
Pradeep K. Mitra and Marcelo Selowsky

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.