Middle East and Central Asia > Iraq

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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Iraq's socio-economic fragilities have been severely aggravated by the pandemic and the sharp decline in oil revenues, which arrived on the heels of widespread social unrest and political instability. The health system’s limited capacity has been strained, while the fiscal position has become untenable as oil revenues declined sharply to a level that barely covers the government’s large wage and pension bills. Although the number of new infections declined recently, Iraq registered the second-highest COVID-related fatalities in the region, and the fiscal response to the pandemic has been one of the lowest. A six-month political paralysis preceding the formation of the government in May 2020 and plans to hold early parliamentary elections in mid-2021 have been weighing on political support for reforms. Risks of social unrest, geopolitical tensions, and insecurity remain elevated.
International Monetary Fund
There have been significant developments in sovereign debt restructuring involving private-sector creditors since the IMF’s last stocktaking in 2014. While the current contractual approach has been largely effective in resolving sovereign debt cases since 2014, it has gaps that could pose challenges in future restructurings.
Natalija Novta and Evgenia Pugacheva
Macroeconomic costs of conflict are generally very large, with GDP per capita about 28 percent lower ten years after conflict onset. This is overwhelmingly driven by private consumption, which falls by 25 percent ten years after conflict onset. Conflict is also associated with dramatic declines in official trade, with exports (imports) estimated to be 58 (34) percent lower ten years after conflict onset. The onset of conflict often also induces significant refugee outflows to neighboring non-advanced countries in the short run, and relatively small but very persistent refugee outflows to advanced countries over the long run. Finally, we stress that conflict should be defined in terms of the number of people killed relative to the total population. The traditional definition of conflict—based on the absolute number of deaths—skews the sample toward low-intensity conflicts in large countries, thereby understating the negative effects of conflict from a macroeconomic perspective.
Mr. Nooman Rebei and Rashid Sbia
This paper documents the determinants of real oil price in the global market based on SVAR model embedding transitory and permanent shocks on oil demand and supply as well as speculative disturbances. We find evidence of significant differences in the propagation mechanisms of transitory versus permanent shocks, pointing to the importance of disentangling their distinct effects. Permanent supply disruptions turn out to be a bigger factor in historical oil price movements during the most recent decades, while speculative shocks became less influential.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This paper discusses Central African Republic’s (CAR) Request for a Three-Year Arrangement Under the Extended Credit Facility. Consistent with the IMF’s Country Engagement Strategy, the IMF-supported program is expected to support the implementation of the peace agreement and of CAR’s medium-term development strategy. Its main objectives are to maintain macroeconomic stability, strengthen administrative capacity, governance, and the business climate, and address CAR’s protracted balance of payments needs. Fiscal policy will focus on revenue mobilization, spending prioritization, and strengthening public financial management, with a view to allow, over the medium term, the durable financing of CAR’s considerable security, social, and infrastructure spending needs. Structural reforms will aim at improving the government’s capacity to design and implementing policies and reforms, at enhancing governance, including through strengthening anticorruption institutions, and at removing bottlenecks and regulatory impediments to private investment. The new arrangement will also help catalysing external concessional financing from other development partners, which is critical to support CAR’s path out of fragility. The IMF will also continue its extensive capacity development on priorities that are aligned with the program objectives.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses the choice and design of rules for Iraq, guided by fiscal policy priorities and the country’s institutional capacity. A ceiling on current spending is proposed as a fiscal rule that would be simple and easy to monitor and support efforts to create space for scaling up capital expenditure, build fiscal buffers to reduce fiscal policy procyclicality, and help secure debt sustainability. A strong policy framework can help Iraq manage the challenges arising from its heavy dependence on volatile oil revenues. The procyclicality of fiscal policy has led to short-term economic volatility and hindered long term development. Important fiscal institutions such as fiscal rules, stabilization funds, and fiscal responsibility laws that exist in many resource-rich countries are lacking in Iraq. Moving to a risk- and rules-based approach can be part of the new policy framework and would be timely. The two main building blocks of this approach involve anchoring fiscal policy on maintaining adequate fiscal buffers, and introducing operational fiscal rules designed to achieve this target for buffers and protect capital expenditure.