This Selected Issues paper on Burundi discusses economic growth, fragility, and non-price competitiveness. In the aftermath of the 2015 crisis that has further fragilized the Burundian economy, the authorities have developed and adopted in 2018 a 10-year National development plan. The origins of Burundi’s fragility are historical, political, and institutional, leading to weak economic performance for the country. More efforts are needed to move the country out of fragility. Focus on investing in the country's long-term peacebuilding would be key. Transparency, social equity, and the fight against corruption are all major actions needed to ensure political stabilization. Also, special attention should be devoted to building a stronger and more resilient economy. Key bottlenecks to Burundi's competitiveness include climate shocks, energy and water constraints, and public management inefficiencies. After several years of instability in Burundi substantive efforts to improve competitiveness have been made.
This 2022 Article IV Consultation discusses that Burundi’s economy continues to navigate the challenging headwinds presented by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and the impact of the war in Ukraine. Burundi’s public debt is sustainable; however, the risk of external debt distress is high. External imbalances are large, with reserve coverage below adequacy levels and a large parallel exchange rate market premium. Growth is expected to strengthen somewhat in 2022, to 3.3 percent, although dampened by inward spillovers of the war in Ukraine, which has compounded nascent domestic fuel shortages and transportation disruptions. Burundi is at high risk of debt distress; and debt is assessed as sustainable contingent on fiscal adjustment and robust export and growth performance. External imbalances have been exacerbated by the pandemic and inward spillovers from the war in Ukraine, with foreign exchange reserves coverage below adequacy levels and a large parallel exchange rate market premium.
Burundi is a fragile state with a history of political tensions and weak institutions. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Burundi was recovering from an economic recession triggered by the 2015 political crisis stemming from the late President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term. Real GDP growth was positive, at 1.8 percent in 2019, but difficult policy challenges persisted.
International Monetary Fund. Office of Budget and Planning
Amidst the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, the Fund faces twin challenges. Signs of early crisis recovery are uneven across countries, and many face daunting crisis legacies. At the same time, longer term challenges from climate change, digitalization and increasing divergence within and between countries demand stepped up effort by the Fund within its areas of expertise and in partnership with others. FY 22-24 budget framework. Considering these challenges and following a decade of flat real budgets, staff will propose a structural augmentation for consideration by fall 2021 to be implemented over two to three years beginning in FY 23. Recognizing the importance of ongoing fiscal prudence, the budget would remain stable thereafter on a real basis at a new, higher level. FY 22 administrative budget. The proposed FY 22 budget sustains crisis response and provides incremental resources for long-term priorities within the flat real budget envelope. The budget is built on extensive reprioritization; savings, including from modernization; and a proposed temporary increase in the carry forward ceiling to address crisis needs during the FY 22 to FY 24 period. Capital budget. Large-scale business modernization programs continue to be rolled out, strengthening the agility and efficiency of the Fund’s operations. In response to the shift towards cloud-based IT solutions, staff propose a change in the budgetary treatment of these expenses. Investment in facilities will focus on timely updates, repairs, and modernization, preparing for the post-crisis Fund where virtual engagement and a new hybrid office environment play a larger role. Budget sustainability. The FY 22–24 medium-term budget framework, including assumptions for a material augmentation, is consistent with a projected surplus in the Fund’s medium-term income position and with continued progress towards the precautionary balance target for coming years. Budget risks. In the midst of a global crisis, risks to the budget remain elevated and above risk acceptance levels, including from uncertainty around the level of demand for Fund programs and ensuing staffing needs, as well as future donor funding for CD. Enterprise risk management continues to be strengthened with this budget.
Economic impact. COVID-19 is having an adverse economic impact on Burundi. The pandemic is affecting Burundi through an evolving domestic outbreak and economic spillovers from the global and regional environment, including from the containment measures introduced in trading partners and neighboring countries. Economic growth projections for 2020 have been revised down by 5.3 percentage points to -3.2 percent in 2020. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing economic challenges and creates an external financing need of 4.7 percent of GDP in 2020 and 2021, mainly as a result of lower exports in line with lower foreign demand due to lower global growth and transportation bottlenecks from containment measures in other countries; elevated imports needs related in part to the planned fiscal spending aimed at responding to the pandemic; and reduced remittances inflows. The pandemic has also created a fiscal financing need of 6.9 percent of GDP, which will need to be met mainly from external sources.