In 1996, the IMF and the World Bank introduced the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative—a comprehensive debt relief program aimed at reducing the external debt burden of eligible countries to sustainable levels, provided they carry out strong programs of macroeconomic adjustment and structural reforms designed to promote growth and reduce poverty. Now that the HIPC Initiative is nearly completed, this paper investigates whether the initiative managed to spur growth, either directly or indirectly through investment. In contrast to earlier studies, we conclude that there is some evidence of positive effects of the HIPC Initiative on growth. Such evidence suggests that the HIPC Initiative and MDRI have helped HIPC-eligible countries to reach higher growth, but it remains unclear whether this is through higher investment or another channel. Also, the analysis illustrates that it is hard to disentangle pure debt-relief effects from other concurrent factors.
Johanna Tiedemann, Veronica Piatkov, Dinar Prihardini, Juan Carlos Benitez, and Ms. Aleksandra Zdzienicka
Small Developing States (SDS) face substantial challenges in achieving sustainable development. Many of these challenges relate to the small size and limited diversification of their economies. SDS are also among the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change and natural disasters. Meeting SDS sustainable development goals goes hand-in-hand with building their climate resilience. But the additional costs to meet development and resilience objectives are substantial and difficult to finance. This work adapts the IMF SDG Costing methodology to capture the unique characteristics and challenges of climate-vulnerable SDS. It also zooms into financing options, estimating domestic tax potential and discussing the possibility of accessing ‘climate funds.’
This paper looks at the role Sovereign Wealth Funds have played in the Pacific Island Countries in achieving key macro-fiscal policy objectives, namely, protecting the budget from high revenue volatility and strengthening fiscal prospects. Evidence shows that the funds' effectiveness has been hampered by lack of integration with the budget, institutional weaknesses, and inadequate controls. These factors, together with weak asset management, have sometimes led to substantial financial losses and undermined fiscal policy. Funds, if well designed, could be used as a tool to support a sound fiscal framework, but should not be seen as a substitute for fiscal reforms.
Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello, Ezequiel Cabezon, and Mr. Yiqun Wu
The small states of the Asia and Pacific region face unique challenges in raising their growth potential and living standards relative to other small states due to their small populations, geographical isolation and dispersion, narrow export and production bases, exposure to shocks, and heavy reliance on aid. Higher fixed government costs, low access to credit by the private sector, and capacity constraints are also key challenges. The econometric analysis confirms that the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have underperformed relative to their peers over the last 20 years. Although these countries often face more limited policy tools, policies do matter and can further help build resilience and raise potential growth, as evidenced in the recent business cycle. The Asia and Pacific small states should continue rebuilding buffers and improve the composition of public spending in order to foster inclusive growth. Regional solutions should also continue to be pursued.