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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Albania continues to be severely affected by the aftermath of the November 2019 earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic. The authorities responded promptly to the shocks, and macroeconomic and financial stability have so far been maintained. The economy is expected to contract sharply in 2020, followed by a gradual recovery in 2021-22. The outlook is subject to major uncertainty and rising downside risks as a second wave is gripping many countries in Europe. Albania’s capacity to repay the Fund is adequate, but risks have risen in light of the shocks. Aside from a more severe pandemic, key risks stem from elevated public deficits and debt, weaknesses in public finances, and a relatively high level of non-performing loans (NPLs) and euroization.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
The Polish government is making good progress with implementing the ambitious Budget System Reforms (BSR) program, first approved by the Council of Ministers (CoM) in 2016. The government demonstrates a high level of commitment to these reforms and is making significant progress in implementing the recommendations of earlier FAD missions with the support of the resident advisor.
Mr. Bernardin Akitoby, Mr. Larry Q Cui, Silvia Domit, Jingzhou Meng, Mr. Slavi T Slavov, Mrs. Nujin Suphaphiphat, and Hanqi Zhang
This departmental paper investigates how countries in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) can improve fiscal transparency, thereby raising government efficiency and reducing corruption vulnerabilities.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper focuses on Albania’s Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). The RFI provides rapid financial assistance to member countries facing an urgent balance of payments need, without the need for a full-fledged economic program or reviews. A sizeable increase in the fiscal deficit of 2020 is necessary to limit the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It will be critical to ensure adequate spending for healthcare and support for the people and firms that are hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Albanian authorities remain committed to ensuring macroeconomic stability. Once the shocks have been overcome, it will be important to keep public debt on a clear downward path. The IMF staff supports the authorities’ request for financial assistance under the RFI to address the urgent balance of payments need due to exogenous shocks related to the 2019 earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic. The balance of payments financing need is expected to be temporary.
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.

Abstract

The 2019 Financial Soundness Indicators Compilation Guide (2019 Guide) includes new indicators to expand the coverage of the financial sector, including other financial intermediaries, money market funds, insurance corporations, pension funds, nonfinancial corporations, and households. In all, the 2019 Guide recommends the compilation of 50 FSIs—13 of them new. Additions such as new capital, liquidity and asset quality metrics, and concentration and distribution measures will serve to enhance the forward-looking aspect of FSIs and contribute to increase policy focus on stability of the financial system.

Mr. Nadeem Ilahi, Mrs. Armine Khachatryan, William Lindquist, Ms. Nhu Nguyen, Ms. Faezeh Raei, and Jesmin Rahman
In the past 25 years, exports have contributed strongly to growth and economic convergence in many small open economies. However, the Western Balkan (WB) region, consisting of small emerging market economies, has not fully availed itself of this driver of growth and convergence. A lack of openness, reliance on low value products, and weak competitiveness largely explain the insignificant role of trade and exports in the region’s economic performance. This paper focuses on how the countries in the WB could lift exports through stronger integration with global value chains (GVCs) and broadening of services exports. The experience of countries that joined the European Union in or after 2004 shows that participation in GVCs can help small economies accelerate export and income growth. WB countries are not well integrated into Europe’s vibrant GVCs. Trade within the region is also limited—it tends to be bilateral and not cluster-like. Our analysis shows that by improving infrastructure and labor skills and adopting trade policies that ensure investor protection and harmonize regulations and legal provisions, the region can greatly enhance its engagement with GVCs. Services exports are an increasingly important part of global trade, and they offer an untapped source of growth. The magnitude of services exports from the WB region compares favorably with that of peers in Europe, particularly in travel services where several of these countries have a revealed comparative advantage. But there is significant room for growth in tourism exports and an untapped potential in business and information technology services exports that these countries can materialize through policy efforts that increase openness and enhance connectivity and labor skills. Serbia offers a good example of how decisive efforts, including education policies to ensure a sustained supply of skilled labor, can help information technology services exports to take off.