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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

2018 Article IV Consultation -Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Kiribati

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Kiribati is a small and fragile state vulnerable to climate change. Record high fishing revenue in recent years has boosted growth, improved the current account, and strengthened the balance of the sovereign wealth fund, the primary vehicle for intergenerational saving. However, fishing revenue has declined in the early months of 2016 and is projected to remain at more modest levels over the medium term. Building fiscal buffers to enhance resilience and continued support from development partners are essential to mitigate downside risks to growth.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

KEY ISSUESKiribati’s key economic challenges are to reduce large structural fiscal imbalances and increase growth and employment opportunities, while facing obstacles posed by remoteness, lack of scale, vulnerabilities to external shocks and climate change.The significant fiscal consolidation envisaged by the authorities will help stabilize Kiribati’s sovereign wealth fund (the Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund, or RERF) in real per capita terms. This stabilization effort would also require that fishing license fees remain close to recent exceptionally high levels, with windfall incomes relative to the conservative budgeted baseline saved. In the event of weaker fishing license fee revenues, a more ambitious adjustment in the non-fishing budget would be needed.The small private sector share in the economy due to remoteness and weaknesses in business climate constrains growth and puts strain on public finances. Continuing the fiscal and structural reform program is essential. Climate change brings additional risks and fiscal costs.Main Recommendations:• Continue fiscal reforms designed to deliver fiscal consolidation and improved public financial management. Seek to maintain fishing license fees above the current conservative budget baseline, with windfalls saved to strengthen RERF balances. If fishing license fee windfalls cannot be sustained, explore other options to further strengthen fiscal balances.• Continue reforms of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).• Facilitate growth through improving the business climate and infrastructure, including through streamlining government services.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

2017 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; and Staff Report

International Monetary Fund

This 2009 Article IV Consultation highlights that inflation in Kiribati increased to about 19 percent by end-2008, largely reflecting higher food prices. The current account deficit was broadly unchanged in 2008. Structural reforms are under way, although the pace has been limited by capacity constraints. Executive Directors have welcomed the recent improvement in economic activity. They have also welcomed the planned review and reform of public enterprises as critical to promoting private sector development, and to boosting the growth potential.

International Monetary Fund

In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.

International Monetary Fund

This report describes recent economic developments in Kiribati. Developments over the decade through 1992 were characterized by a fall in real per capita income, as economic development was constrained by a shortage of skilled manpower, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from major international markets. However, inflation was held broadly in line with price increases in major trading partners. The overall external balance was in large surplus, as substantial trade deficits in part reflecting small export earnings were more than offset by service account surpluses and external grant receipts.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper focuses on recent developments with Kiribati’s Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund (RERF). The paper also examines fiscal aspects of climate change, and considers options for improving fishing license fees, which remain an important source of revenue. It also analyzes recent developments and the outlook for remittances to Kiribati, which is another important source of external revenue and brings important economic benefits, such as reducing poverty and stabilizing national income.

International Monetary Fund
Kiribati's economic policies reflect the country's communally oriented values that favor social cohesion over individual self-reliance and the rough and tumble of the market economy. Unfavorable external conditions, fiscal slippages, and the lack of structural reforms have led to a weakening in Kiribati's external and fiscal positions. To achieve sustainable medium-term growth, timely implementation of fiscal consolidation and structural reforms is critical. Public enterprise reform and privatization, along with civil service rationalization, should be at the top of the reform agenda.
Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello and Yi Xiong