The staff report for the Second Review Under the Stand-By Arrangement on the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia highlights economic developments and policies. FYR of Macedonia’s economic performance since independence has been marked by notable achievements in macroeconomic management, as well as some disappointments in the area of structural reforms. Inflation was brought down from hyperinflation levels to the low single digits by the de facto exchange rate peg, which was sustained in spite of sometimes challenging circumstances.
This 2009 Article IV Consultation highlights that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s vulnerability at the outset of the global crisis was its large current account deficit in the context of the exchange rate peg to the euro. At the same time, it benefited from a small fiscal deficit, modest public debt, and significant international reserve buffers. Executive Directors have praised the Macedonian authorities for the conduct of macroeconomic policies, which contributed to a modest downturn in Macedonia’s economy relative to other countries in the region.
This 2011 Article IV Consultation highlights that Macedonia is poised to achieve low but positive growth under the baseline scenario of a shallow recession in the euro area. Under a downside scenario, growth would be weaker, and external financing pressures could arise. In the near term, the government would need to reduce expenditure growth to meet the 2012 deficit target. A key longer-term challenge would be to reconcile the competing objectives of higher public investment and increases in pensions and public wages while preserving low public debt and low taxes.
Conservative policies, together with external official assistance, provided Macedonia with buffers to confront spillovers from the global crisis and deal with domestic shocks. External and financial stability have been maintained despite a difficult external environment. The start of EU accession negotiations remains uncertain. Some key recommendations of earlier Article IV Consultations have been implemented; others remain outstanding. Macedonia is well positioned to return to growth, although the external outlook presents a key risk. Policies should remain focused on boosting medium-term growth.
This paper discusses the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s Second Review Under the Stand-By Arrangement and Request for Waiver of Performance Criteria and Rephasing of the Program. The 2007 fiscal deficit target increased modestly to 1 percent of GDP. Taxes were cut and budget quality improved, but there remain fiscal risks, in particular in delivering the planned reduction in transfers and subsidies. Over the medium term, the government aims to keep the fiscal deficit below 1½ percent of GDP, cutting overall government spending by 2 percent of GDP while raising public investment.
This paper aims to determine how much of the economic slowdown of Albania is owing to cyclical conditions and how much to a reduction in potential growth. The analysis shows that average growth in 2009–14 dropped by 3.2 percentage points relative to 1997–2008, of which 2.8 percentage points are due to lower potential growth. Albania has significant potential to improve its export competitiveness. However, Albania’s competitiveness has shown narrow improvements over the past five years, with weak productivity growth and continued concentration in low-skilled labor-intensive sectors with limited value added. This paper also explores the factors underpinning Albania’s relatively low level of general government revenues.
This Technical Assistance Report discusses several tax administration issues and high-level recommendations for the reform agenda. The General Directorate of Taxes (GDT) continues to make good progress in modernizing its administration of the taxation system. A program to consolidate some core functions into fewer regional locations, beginning with the arrears collection function, should be accelerated. The GDT’s increased use of electronic services and telephone contact centers reduces the need for face-to-face contact with taxpayers. The GDT must have access to a broader range of third-party information, and data-warehouse facilities to manage the risk assessment with automated analytical tools. There are some positive developments in the audit function; however, further capacity building is necessary. A new comprehensive desk audit manual has been developed, which will help to standardize operations and provide more appropriate case allocation based on auditor experience and skills.