The Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO) requested a mission by the IMF’s Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC) for conducting a feasibility study on the implementation of a quarterly national accounts (QNA) in Vanuatu. This study outlines the staff, organizational and data requirements for Vanuatu to implement a quarterly national accounts program.
A big challenge for the economic development of small island countries is dealing with external shocks. The Pacific Islands are vulnerable to natural disasters, climate change, commodity price changes, and uncertain donor grants. The question that arises is how should small developing countries formulate a fiscal policy to achieve economic stability and fiscal sustainability when prone to various shocks? We study how natural disasters affect long-term debt dynamics and propose fiscal policy rules that could help insulate the economy from such unexpected shocks. We propose fiscal rules to address these shocks and uncertainties using the example of Papua New Guinea. Our study finds the advantages of expenditure rules, especially a recurrent expenditure rule based on non-resource and non-grant revenue, interdependently determined by government debt and budget balance targets with expected disaster shocks. This paper contributes to the literature and policy dialogue by theoretically analyzing the impact of natural disasters on debt sustainability and proposing fiscal rules against natural disasters and climate changes. Our fiscal policy framework is practically applicable for many developing countries facing increasing frequency and impact of natural disasters and climate change. Our rules-based fiscal framework is crucial for sustainable and countercyclical macroeconomic policies to build resilience against devastating natural hazards.
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. Asia and Pacific Dept
Four years after Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu causing extensive damages, reconstruction is near completion with full recovery in sight. The authorities are now focused on implementing their broader development plans that were slowed by the rebuilding process, which will require fiscal discipline and reforms to maintain debt sustainability. The authorities should continue their constructive engagement with development partners for technical assistance, capacity development, and concessional and grant-based funding. In parallel continuing to reform and strengthen the governance of institutions and removing vulnerabilities to corruption will be important.
Mr. Alessandro Cantelmo, Mr. Leo Bonato, Mr. Giovanni Melina, and Mr. Gonzalo Salinas
Resilience to climate change and natural disasters hinges on two fundamental elements: financial protection —insurance and self-insurance— and structural protection —investment in adaptation. Using a dynamic general equilibrium model calibrated to the St. Lucia’s economy, this paper shows that both strategies considerably reduce the output loss from natural disasters and studies the conditions under which each of the two strategies provides the best protection. While structural protection normally delivers a larger payoff because of its direct dampening effect on the cost of disasters, financial protection is superior when liquidity constraints limit the ability of the government to rebuild public capital promptly. The estimated trade-off is very sensitive to the efficiency of public investment.
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.
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.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Three years after Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu causing extensive damages, reconstruction efforts are near completion with full recovery in sight. However, capacity constraints and coordination issues have hampered the use of committed funds by donors and development partners, thereby slowing down recovery. Meanwhile, the government’s ambitious development agenda is making good progress with several major infrastructure projects completed or projected to be completed in the next year.
Ricardo Marto, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Mr. Vladimir Klyuev
We present a dynamic small open economy model to explore the macroeconomic impact of
natural disasters. In addition to permanent damages to public and private capital, the disaster
causes temporary losses of productivity, inefficiencies during the reconstruction process, and
damages to the sovereign's creditworthiness. We use the model to study the debt sustainability
concerns that arise from the need to rebuild public infrastructure over the medium term and
analyze the feasibility of ex ante policies, such as building adaptation infrastructure and fiscal
buffers, and contrast these policies with the post-disaster support provided by donors. Investing
in resilient infrastructure may prove useful, in particular if it is viewed as complementary to
standard infrastructure, because it raises the marginal product of private capital, crowding in
private investment, while helping withstand the impact of the natural disaster. In an application
to Vanuatu, we find that donors should provide an additional 50% of pre-cyclone GDP in grants
to be spent over the following 15 years to ensure public debt remains sustainable following
Cyclone Pam. Helping the government build resilience on the other hand, reduces the risk of
debt distress and at lower cost for donors.
Small developing states are disproportionately vulnerable to natural disasters. On average, the annual cost of disasters for small states is nearly 2 percent of GDP—more than four times that for larger countries. This reflects a higher frequency of disasters, adjusted for land area, as well as greater vulnerability to severe disasters. About 9 percent of disasters in small states involve damage of more than 30 percent of GDP, compared to less than 1 percent for larger states. Greater exposure to disasters has important macroeconomic effects on small states, resulting in lower investment, lower GDP per capita, higher poverty, and a more volatile revenue base.