Asia and Pacific > Kiribati

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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Kiribati’s economy recovered strongly from the pandemic on the back of supportive fiscal measures including subsidies, grants, and (most recently) an increase in civil service wages. Inflation, which has decelerated from its recent peak, is projected to pick up again mainly due to increased domestic demand. Kiribati is among the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. Infrastructure gaps compound already challenging constraints imposed by distance and dispersion, limiting the development of the private sector in the state-dominated economy, and cementing its reliance on imports, especially for essential commodities such as food and fuel.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Due to supportive fiscal policies, the economy recovered strongly in 2021, with real GDP growing 7.9 percent. However, a domestic outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown restrictions imposed in the first half of 2022 along with a severe drought dampened economic activities. With the reopening of borders in August 2022, GDP growth is expected to increase from an estimated 1.2 percent in 2022 to 2.5 percent in 2023. Inflation has picked up recently due to the recovery in domestic demand, supply shortages, and elevated commodity prices and freight costs. Risks to the outlook are mainly on the downside.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
The Selected Issues paper focuses on climate change in Kiribati. This note summarizes the main ways in which climate change may negatively affect the economy of Kiribati. It then shows how Kiribati may cope with these negative effects by implementing adaptation projects, as well as by contributing to global mitigation efforts. Finally, the note describes some issues related to climate finance and how authorities of Kiribati may direct their efforts in the most productive way to ensure that climate-related projects obtain the proper financial backing and are carried out to fruition in a timely fashion. Leveraging climate finance effectively is critical to ensure Kiribati implements climate projects. Introducing renewable energy is one of the most effective ways to achieve emissions reductions for Kiribati. Besides renewable energy, other non-price-based instruments can be deployed for climate mitigation. Above all, international cooperation is crucial to help Kiribati overcome climate threats. The impact of climate change is far beyond the ability of any countries to cope with it alone, not to mention small atoll islands like Kiribati.
International Monetary Fund
This paper presents a Management Implementation Plan (MIP) with actions to take forward the Board-endorsed recommendations from the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO)’s report on IMF Engagement with Small Developing States (SDS). The actions in the MIP are broad in scope, touching on all modalities of the Fund’s engagement with SDS, and seek to be comprehensive, self-reinforcing, cost-effective, and designed to be adopted as a package. The MIP aims to support a targeted and effective recalibration of engagement with SDS; enhance IMF’s surveillance and capacity development in SDS members; strengthen the Fund’s lending engagement with SDS, in line with the applicable policy frameworks; and secure an effective, well-tailored and more continuous staff presence in SDS.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Growth has been strong in recent years and some moderation is expected, with risks skewed to the downside. High fishing revenues improved the fiscal position, but generated pressure to increase spending. There has been progress on fiscal and structural reforms. Yet, public spending needs are large, driven by an infrastructure gap and climate adaptation costs, and the country remains at high risk of debt distress.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that Kiribati’s recent economic performance has been strong. Growth is estimated to have reached 3.5 percent in 2015, supported by record-high fishing revenue, donor-financed infrastructure projects, and reconstruction in the aftermath of cyclone Pam. The fiscal position has improved markedly in recent years. High fishing revenue contributed to a recurrent fiscal balance of almost 50 percent of GDP in 2015, more than offsetting the increase in recurrent government spending of 13 percent. Growth is projected to moderate somewhat to about 3 percent in 2016, while inflation remains subdued owing to low food and commodity prices.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
KEY ISSUES Context. Donor-financed large infrastructure projects, increased public spending, and a pick-up in credit to households have boosted real GDP growth to close to 4 percent in 2014 and to about 3 percent in 2015. Inflation remains low, underpinned by lower food and commodity prices. Steps are being taken to reduce the many hurdles to private growth that Kiribati faces, among which are high transportation and communication costs and an increasing impact of climate change. Fiscal policy. The fiscal outlook has improved, but further efforts are needed to ensure sustainability. The recurrent balance was in large surplus in 2014 and is expected to remain positive in 2015, reflecting high revenue from license fees, and notwithstanding a large increase in expenditures. But under the historic pace of spending the sovereign wealth fund (Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund—RERF) would be depleted in about 20 years. Ensuring sustainability requires containing nominal expenditure growth to around 1½ per annum over the next five years (after accommodating climate-change-related costs), with transparent and symmetric transfers and withdrawals from the RERF around this path. Structural reforms. There is a consensus among donors that significant progress has been achieved. The State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) Reform Act is being implemented in a satisfactory way, as illustrated by the recent successful privatization of the telecommunication company. Key outstanding issues include further reforming the energy and copra sectors and improving the investment climate.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
KEY ISSUES Kiribati’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 a