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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 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that Kiribati’s economic fundamentals have strengthened in recent years. Strong fishing revenue improved the fiscal position, strengthened the current account, and boosted business confidence. After registering a double-digit rate in 2015, real GDP growth declined to 1.1 percent in 2016, but is projected to pick up to about 3 percent in 2017 driven by construction and wholesale and retail trade. The authorities have made commendable progress in structural reforms. They have implemented important reforms to improve the governance and management of the Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund and replenished the fund from the cash reserves. Despite a favorable economic outlook, risks to near-term growth are substantial and skewed to the downside.
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 and weaknesses in business climate constrains growth and puts strain on public finances. Continuing the fiscal and structural reform program is essential. Climate change brings additional risks and fiscal costs. Main Recommendations: • Continue fiscal reforms designed to deliver fiscal consolidation and improved public financial management. Seek to maintain fishing license fees above the current conservative budget baseline, with windfalls saved to strengthen RERF balances. If fishing license fee windfalls cannot be sustained, explore other options to further strengthen fiscal balances. • Continue reforms of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). • Facilitate growth through improving the business climate and infrastructure, including through streamlining government services.
Ms. Shari Boyce, Mr. Sergei Dodzin, Mr. Xuefei Bai, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Ms. Rosanne Heller

Abstract

The work on the small states is an important component of the IMF’s global policy agenda. Among the 36 member countries covered by the IMF Asia and Pacific Department (APD), 13 countries are developing small states—most of which are Pacific islands. As part of APD’s ongoing effort to increase its engagement with regional small states and their development partners and enhance information sharing within the IMF, this issue marks the launch of the APD Small States Monitor, a quarterly bulletin featuring the latest economic developments, country notes from the most recent Article IV staff reports, special topics, past and upcoming events, and forthcoming IMF research on small states. In future issues, we will also host contributions from the authorities of small states and their development partners on key policy topics. Our goal is to exchange knowledge and deepen our understanding of the policy challenges these economies face to better tailor our policy advice.

International Monetary Fund
This note highlights the unique economic characteristics and constraints facing small developing states. It provides operational guidance on Fund engagement with such countries, including on how small country size might influence the use of Fund facilities and instruments, program design, capacity building activities, and collaboration with other institutions and donors. The guidance note draws on the March 2013 Board papers on small states and the associated Executive Board discussion. The findings of the paper and implications for Fund engagement with small states were presented to small states authorities during the 2013 Annual Meetings, as well as in regional IMF conferences with small states in the Bahamas (September 2013) and Vanuatu (November 2013). Series
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Kiribati is one of the poorest and most remote microstates in the Pacific. It is highly dependent on volatile fishing license fees, remittances, and donor assistance. The challenge is to implement fiscal and structural reforms to help ensure fiscal sustainability, promote private sector development, and increase its resilience to external shocks. Fully using its marine potential beyond fishing license fees will help to improve fiscal revenues and growth opportunities. More generally, private sector development is critical for both increasing growth and reducing fiscal pressures.
Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello, Ezequiel Cabezon, and Mr. Yiqun Wu
The small states of the Asia and Pacific region face unique challenges in raising their growth potential and living standards relative to other small states due to their small populations, geographical isolation and dispersion, narrow export and production bases, exposure to shocks, and heavy reliance on aid. Higher fixed government costs, low access to credit by the private sector, and capacity constraints are also key challenges. The econometric analysis confirms that the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have underperformed relative to their peers over the last 20 years. Although these countries often face more limited policy tools, policies do matter and can further help build resilience and raise potential growth, as evidenced in the recent business cycle. The Asia and Pacific small states should continue rebuilding buffers and improve the composition of public spending in order to foster inclusive growth. Regional solutions should also continue to be pursued.
International Monetary Fund
The staff report highlights that the economy of Kiribati showed resilience from the global crisis owing to infrastructure projects financed by foreign assistance. Executive Directors stressed the importance of preserving real per capita value of the Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund to ensure fiscal sustainability and intergenerational fairness. They appreciated the multiyear budget framework, which helped in designing realistic fiscal plans. Directors noted the joint IMF-World Bank debt sustainability analysis and encouraged authorities to secure grant financing to support the country’s development needs.
International Monetary Fund
This report presents data provided by the authorities during 2005–09, which include Kiribati's contributions to GDP growth and gross national product. It provides a summary of central government's operations, revenue 2005–09, central government expenditure (functional and economic classifications), salary structure 2004–08, and budgetary subsidies to public enterprises. Details of assets and the liabilities of the Development Bank of Kiribati, provident funds, ANZ bank's balance sheets and interest rates, and composition of exports and imports are also mentioned. It shows services and income, external grants, and external assets and liabilities as well.