Asia and Pacific > Marshall Islands, Republic of the

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Hidetaka Nishizawa, Mr. Scott Roger, and Huan Zhang
Pacific island countries (PICs) are vulnerable severe natural disasters, especially cyclones, inflicting large losses on their economies. In the aftermath of disasters, PIC governments face revenue losses and spending pressures to address post-disaster relief and recovery efforts. This paper estimates the effects of severe natural disasters on fiscal revenues and expenditure in PICs. These are combined with information on the frequency of large disasters to calculate the rate of budgetary savings needed to build appropriate fiscal buffers. Fiscal buffers provide self-insurance against natural disaster shocks and facilitate quick disbursement for recovery and relief efforts, and protection of spending on essential services and infrastructure. The estimates can provide a benchmark for policymakers, and should be adjusted to take into account other sources of financing, as well as budget risks from less severe as well as more frequent disasters.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, and Review Department
This Supplement presents an account of the extensive consultations and the results of various analyses that supported the development of “A Strategy for IMF Engagement on Social Spending.”
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlight that growth in the Marshallese economy is estimated to have accelerated to about 3.5 percent in FY2017 (ending September 30) with a strong pick-up in fisheries and construction, with the latter owing to the resumption of infrastructure projects. Consumer prices started to rise again in mid-2017, with annual consumer price index inflation at 1.1 percent in 2017Q4. Growth is expected to remain robust at about 2.5 percent in FY2018 and about 1.5 percent over the medium term, underpinned by further increases in infrastructure spending. Inflation is expected to rise gradually to about 2 percent over the medium term.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Selected Issues paper discusses correspondent banking relationships (CBRs) pressures on the Republic of the Marshall Island (RMI). RMI’s two banks currently have access to the US financial system. The Bank of the Marshall Islands is a domestic financial institution providing banking services to a substantial portion of the population and operates five branches throughout RMI, including on the Kwajalein Atoll. RMI, through the Trust Company of the Marshall Islands, provides offshore corporate and maritime registry services. Weak implementation of the anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework by the authorities contributes to CBR pressures in RMI. The termination of BOMI’s CBR with First Hawaiian Bank would be expected to have significant negative economic repercussions without alternative arrangements. The RMI authorities are strengthening the effectiveness of the AML/CFT framework. Additional steps should be taken to further lower the risk of losing the last US dollar CBR. Once the national risk assessment is completed, an action plan should be developed to address the identified risks.
Mr. Si Guo and Mr. Futoshi Narita
Pacific island countries are exposed to significant risks from natural disasters. As a disaster relief measure, Fiji allowed pre-retirement pension withdrawls in the wake of Cyclone Winston in 2016. Motivated by this policy action, we provide a normative analysis of the use of early pension withdrawals after disasters, by setting up a life-cycle saving model with myopic households facing large natural disaster shocks. The model demonstrates the key trade-off between building up sufficient retirement savings and ensuring the access to savings against natural disaster shocks, and sheds light on welfare implications of early pension withdrawals.
Dongyeol Lee, Huan Zhang, and Chau Nguyen
Pacific island countries are highly vulnerable to various natural disasters which are destructive, unpredictable and occur frequently. The frequency and scale of these shocks heightens the importance of medium-term economic and fiscal planning to minimize the adverse impact of disasters on economic development. This paper identifies the intensity of natural disasters for each country in the Pacific based on the distribution of damage and population affected by disasters, and estimates the impact of disasters on economic growth and international trade using a panel regression. The results show that “severe” disasters have a significant and negative impact on economic growth and lead to a deterioration of the fiscal and trade balance. We also find that the negative impact on growth is stronger for more intense disasters. Going further this paper proposes a simple and consistent method to adjust IMF staff’s economic projections and debt sustainability analysis for disaster shocks for the Pacific islands. Better incorporating the economic impact of natural disasters in the medium- and long-term economic planning would help policy makers improve fiscal policy decisions and to be better adapted and prepared for natural disasters.
Jihad Alwazir, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Dongyeol Lee, Niamh Sheridan, and Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello
Access to financial services in the small states of the Pacific is being eroded. Weaknesses in Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism compliance in the context of high levels of remittances are contributing to banks’ decisions to withdraw corresponding banking relationships and close bank accounts of money transfer operators. In this paper, we gather evidence on these developments in the small states of the Pacific, discuss the main drivers, and the potentially negative impact on the financial sector and macroeconomy. We then identify the collective efforts needed to address the consequences of withdrawal of corresponding banking relationships and outline policy measures to help the affected countries mitigate the impact.
Hoe Ee Khor, Mr. Roger P. Kronenberg, and Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello

Abstract

Pacific island countries face unique challenges to realizing their growth potential and raising living standards. This book discusses ongoing challenges facing Pacific island countries and policy options to address them. Regional cooperation and solutions tailored to their unique challenges, as well as further integration with the Asia and Pacific region will each play a role. With concerted efforts, Pacific island countries can boost potential growth, increase resilience, and improve the welfare of their citizens.

Tamoya A. L. Christie and Dhanaraj Thakur
Of the countries in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands, Timor-Leste has the most well-developed gender budgeting initiative. In the Pacific Islands, a few gender budgeting efforts were initiated but did not continue. In the Caribbean, there have been no well-developed gender budgeting efforts, although governments have undertaken policies to promote gender equality. We provide a number of recommendations to improve the effectiveness of gender budgeting efforts. Governments should link gender budgeting to national development plans, set realistic time expectations for achieving results, engage in capacity building with officials, draw upon strengths outside the government, and strengthen regional coordination.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

This report examines whether the IMF has effectively leveraged an important asset: data. It finds that in general, the IMF has been able to rely on a large amount of data of acceptable quality, and that data provision from member countries has improved markedly over time. Nonetheless, problems with data or data practices have, at times, adversely affected the IMF’s surveillance and lending activities. The roots of data problems are diverse, ranging from problems due to member countries’ capacity constraints or reluctance to share sensitive data to internal issues such as lack of appropriate staff incentives, institutional rigidities, and long-standing work practices. Efforts to tackle these problems are piecemeal, the report finds, without a clear comprehensive strategy that recognizes data as an institutional strategic asset, not just a consumption good for economists. The report makes a number of recommendations that could promote greater progress in this regard.