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International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office


1. Social protection has become a central concern in the global policy discourse. The global crisis in 2008 triggered job losses and financial turmoil, prompting the Group of Twenty (G-20) to call for actions to “mitigate the social impact,” particularly on the poorest and most vulnerable (G-20, 2009). Attention to social protection has also been raised by recurrent commodity price shocks; by concerns about rising inequality and the implications of increasing trade openness and new technologies for displaced workers and their families; by long-running demographic trends such as aging populations; and by regional social and political stresses such as the “Arab Spring” that brought attention to the need for “inclusive growth.” In 2011, G-20 member countries recognized the importance of “social protection floors”—i.e., nationally-defined guarantees ensuring that all in need have access to essential healthcare and basic income security—and urged international organizations to enhance cooperation on the social impact of economic policies (G-20, 2011). In 2015, world leaders adopted the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), pledging to achieve, by 2030, “nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all,” among other things (UN, 2015).

George Schieber, Lisa Fleisher, and Pablo Gottret

sector, globally and nationally—far more than in any other sector. The private sector plays a substantial, often predominant role in both the financing and the delivery of health care services and is often absent from the policy debate. Insurance markets and the health sector more generally require complex regulatory frameworks. The costly financial protection element of health financing is largely unique to the health sector (except for a few standard social protection programs such as pensions, unemployment insurance, and social assistance) and creates

International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

generalized food and/or energy price subsidies in favor of “better targeted” social safety net programs. While such price subsidies are not usually categorized as social protection policies, in many countries they have a social protection element. As discussed in Feltenstein (2017) , during the evaluation period the IMF recommended food or fuel price subsidy reforms in up to a quarter of all Article IV Summings Up across the membership, with the highest incidence of such advice observed in MCD countries (e.g., Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia) ( Figure 6A ). 47 The same

Mr. Koshy Mathai, Mr. Christoph Duenwald, Ms. Anastasia Guscina, Rayah Al-Farah, Mr. Hatim Bukhari, Mr. Atif Chaudry, Moataz El-Said, Fozan Fareed, Mrs. Kerstin Gerling, Nghia-Piotr Le, Mr. Franto Ricka, Mr. Cesar Serra, Tetyana Sydorenko, Mr. Sébastien Walker, and Mr. Mohammed Zaher

-sector employment ( Tamirisa and Duenwald 2018 ). 1 Likewise, some subsidies may have a social-protection element, as they amount to a universal transfer to households, though here too the benefits are seen mostly by the rich, at least in absolute monetary terms, and incentives again are distorted (toward overconsumption) ( Figure 2 ). Countries in the region spend considerably on these ( Figure 3 ). Private outlays on education 2 and both domestic and foreign charitable spending in these areas (including off-budget, foreign-aid-funded spending) may also have a material impact

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

education, healthcare, and targeted social protection has been shown to promote growth and reduce income inequality (Dollar and Kray, 2002; IMF 2018). Azerbaijan stands out as spending the least in percent of GDP on health and education in the CCA, although in per capita terms it is in line with peers. 2 Efficiency of public expenditure is also a concern, as outcomes, particularly in education and healthcare, fall short of those predicted by public outlays. 3. Recent economic spending packages have a social protection element . The statutory minimum wage in Azerbaijan

International Monetary Fund
Belarus’s economy has performed well owing to its strong macroeconomic policies, which facilitated rapid real income growth, near-full employment, and a reduction in poverty to the lowest level in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Executive Directors welcomed the disciplined monetary and fiscal policies. They commended the efforts to curb budgetary transfers and subsidies, reduce the tax burden, and strengthen the financial system. They appreciated the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus (NBRB) in strengthening the supervisory frameworks, and stressed the need for fiscal tightening and strengthening of its policies, reforms, and economic performance.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with the Republic of Azerbaijan highlights that the economy is continuing to recover from a banking crisis and recession. Looking ahead, economic growth is expected to reach 2.7 percent in 2019 on strong hydrocarbon production and robust domestic demand, benefitting from new spending measures. Gradual and growth-friendly fiscal consolidation is needed to strengthen intergenerational and precautionary buffers while mitigating the adverse impact on the economy. Consolidation could rely on prioritizing and improving the efficiency of spending, rationalizing tax policy, and improving revenue administration. Reducing administrative burden for businesses, encouraging competition, and strengthening governance and transparency would reduce the cost of doing business, foster entrepreneurship, and attract foreign capital. Prioritizing investment for healthcare and education, improving its efficiency, and better targeting of social protection would help nurture human capital and improve productivity. Addressing governance weaknesses is essential to reduce vulnerabilities to corruption. More integrated policies, along with better data availability, would support decision making and credibility, and attract investment.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
'Africa: Making Its Move' explores some of the obstacles facing sub-Saharan Africa as it attempts to capitalize on changes that offer fresh opportunities for growth and poverty reduction. The lead article describes the changes and suggests how Africa can build on them to progress further. Other articles focus on the aid situation, financial sector development, trade, the business environment, and political and policy reform on the continent. 'Country Focus' examines the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, and two guest contributors look at how the international community can help the most fragile states and how oil-producing countries can manage windfall revenues. 'People in Economics' profiles the European Central bank's first chief economist, Otmar Issing; 'Picture This' examines the global housing slowdown; and 'Back to Basics,' explains current account deficits. Another article discusses the realities of health financing.