In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.


In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.

Managing Resource Wealth in Mauritania: Considerations for a Fiscal Framework1

Mauritania, a multi-metallic commodity exporter, faces important medium-term fiscal policy challenges arising from volatile resource revenues and prospects for a significant mining expansion. Like other commodity exporters, Mauritania needs to avoid pro-cyclical fiscal policies and adopt rules that guide medium-term fiscal sustainability. The analysis of fiscal framework options reveals that a fiscal rule which targets a non-resource primary balance for long-term sustainability, designed to allow some frontloading of public spending on productive investment, would be appropriate for Mauritania under the assumption of a finite resource horizon. A fiscal rule targeting a structural resource balance would be appropriate in the scenario of long-lasting resources, possible under the assumption of favorable developments in the global commodity markets.

A. Context

1. Mauritania is a country rich in natural resources. Minerals currently make up more than 75 percent of total exports and contributed 11 percent of non-extractive GDP in 2013. Their contribution is expected to increase if more mining projects come on stream as planned in the next few years. At the same time, declining prices in the global commodity markets, with iron ore being the worst performing commodity in 2014, could have important implications for export earnings and government revenues in the short term. Whether the recent term-of-trade shock is temporary or sustained, natural resource management will pose significant challenges and require a well-adapted macro-fiscal framework.

2. Fiscal policy has been responsible and focused on fiscal consolidation, but important challenges lie ahead linked to price volatility, exhaustibility of resources, and effective use of resources. Although fiscal and external buffers were built up in the context of elevated commodity prices during 2011-13 and could help to smooth a temporary fall in prices, the economy is still vulnerable to terms-of-trade shocks. Moreover, prospects for significant mining expansion remain high should a rebound in commodity prices materialize. Reinforcing the fiscal framework is now urgent to support continued responsible fiscal policy while enhancing policy predictability, and improve governance in managing mining wealth. This paper analyzes several fiscal framework alternatives for Mauritania by drawing on recent analytical work on the management of resource wealth in resource-rich developing countries (IMF 2012b).

B. Mauritania’s Resource Wealth

3. Mauritania has an important extractive industries sector with significant reserves of iron ore, copper and gold. The country is the second largest producer of iron ore in Africa after South Africa. The sector is dominated by three major companies operating mines in production phase: the state company Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (SNIM) which operates the iron ore mines at Zouérate; the Mauritanian Copper Mines (MCM) with main operations at Akjoujt; and TASIAST Mauritanie Limited with important gold exploration and extraction activities. Other mining projects are expected to come on stream in the next years if international market conditions allow (Table 1).2 Phosphate reserves are also significant and, if developed, could considerably transform the resource sector of the country.3

Table 1.

Main Mining Projects by Operational Status

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Abbreviations: Mtpa: million metric tons per year; Ktpd: thousand metric tons per day; Koz: thousand ounces; Moz: million ounces Source: SNIM, MCM, Kinross

4. Production of minerals is set to expand in the medium to long term. Investment in the sector has been growing at a remarkable rate and is projected to keep the growth of extractive GDP at 11 percent per year, on average, during 2015-20. The production of iron ore alone is expected, relative to 2013 levels, to more than double in the next five years and increase by five times in the next 10 years if mining expansion plans materialize. SNIM has announced plans to ramp up production to 25 million metric tons per year (Mtpa) by 2021 and to 30Mtpa by 2025. The El Aouj mine, a joint venture between SNIM and Glencore, is further expected to bring capacity of 9Mtpa on stream by 2019, and could double it by 2023. Production from the Glencore-operated Askaf project, planned to commence by early 2017, could contribute additional 7.5Mtpa of iron ore.

5. Oil and gas exploration investments could contribute to identifying additional resource reserves. Promising commercial discoveries in 2001 at the Chinguetti oil field have been consistently revised downwards, and Mauritania is producing nowadays less than 5,000 barrels per day (Mbpd), well below original projections of 60Mbpd. Nevertheless, Mauritania’s largely unexplored land and sea terrain is deemed to have considerable potential, and in recent years the government has granted oil exploration contracts. Frontier explorers like Premier Oil, Kosmos Energy, Chariot Oil and Gas, and Tullow Oil are actively engaged in oil exploration offshore. Prospects for natural gas exploitation could also be significant, as indicated by the 2012 commercial discovery made in the Chinguetti field by Tullow Oil. If the development of the Banda Gas project in the Chinguetti field goes ahead, it could produce up to BTU60 billion per day over 20 years (World Bank, 2014).

6. The contribution of natural resources to government revenue is significantly smaller than their share in exports. Receipts from minerals and petroleum contribute 26 percent to Mauritania’s budget, and are expected to decline in the medium term. This is partly the effect of a mining fiscal regime that has been designed to create an attractive environment for investment (Rota-Graziosi 2014). Existing mines operate under generous fiscal concessions, and new projects coming on stream under the 2012 Mining Code will generate corporate income tax only after initial investments are recovered and a three-year allowable tax holiday is exhausted.4

7. Mauritania’s resource horizon is uncertain and two scenarios can be used to estimate the size of future resource revenues. Under the baseline scenario, which is consistent with the assumptions in the staff report that all currently planned mining projects (Table 1) come to execution, mining revenue will be large in nominal terms, even though they will decline as a share of non-resource GDP in the long run (Figure 1, left panel). Projections using the FARI modeling framework5 indicate that the government revenue from mining alone over the next 20 years (that is, between 2015 and 2034) could amount to US$10 billion or 2.6 times the country’s 2013 non-resource GDP. Under an extended scenario, which illustratively incorporates projected receipts from the upstream section of the Banda Gas project6 and hypothetical development of the phosphate reserves, the magnitude of revenue (calculated in nominal undiscounted value) could amount to 4.5 times the country’s 2013 non-resource GDP (Figure 1, right panel). The revenues accrued to the government under this scenario could be even higher if global commodity prices recover and make commercially viable the development of new projects.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Resource Revenue Projections

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 036; 10.5089/9781498354226.002.A001

Source: IMF staff estimates.

C. Considerations for Strengthening the Fiscal Framework

8. Mauritania has made marked progress in its fiscal policy formulation, but important challenges ahead highlight the importance of reinforcing the fiscal framework. With the support of the ECF arrangement (2010-13), the authorities managed to adopt a more prudent fiscal stance and improved the policy space. By the beginning of 2014, fiscal and external buffers had been strengthened thanks to progress in revenue mobilization, windfall donor assistance in the past, and oil fund accumulations.7 Nevertheless, fiscal policy has not been sufficiently pro-active to address the challenges raised by resource revenues, and while the authorities’ efforts on fiscal consolidation have translated in improvements in the non-resource primary balance, this has remained relatively high (13 percent of non-resource GDP in 2014). During 2014, the significant terms-of-trade shock has weakened fiscal buffers and external debt has maintained an upward trend reaching an elevated 73½ percent of GDP.

9. Mauritania’s fiscal framework must address complex fiscal policy objectives. As in any other country, a first objective is to ensure long-run fiscal sustainability, that is, the government must be able to sustain spending, tax, and other fiscal policies in the long term without risking to default on liabilities or expenditure commitments. In resource-rich countries, this requires including resource revenues in the inter-temporal budget constraint. A second objective of the fiscal framework for Mauritania, as for other resource-rich countries, is to manage resource revenue uncertainty and volatility. Although the focus is usually on prices, production volumes and costs are also uncertain and can lead to volatility. If revenue volatility is high and persistent, precautionary financial savings should be built to smooth revenues and expenditures.8 A third objective for the fiscal framework is debt management. Natural resource wealth may increase the capacity to borrow as it increases the capacity to service debt. This needs to be managed wisely and integrated into a comprehensive debt management strategy. Borrowing against future revenue, sometimes even before production commences, reduces fiscal flexibility later and may lower the creditworthiness of the country. Fourth, especially in countries with limited resource reserve horizons, issues of exhaustibility and intergenerational equity considerations also need to be addressed by the fiscal framework. As well, strengthening fiscal policy predictability and institutions is a critical objective of the fiscal framework.

10. With these multiple objectives, the appropriate fiscal anchor depends on whether the resource revenue is temporary or long-lasting, and whether the economy is scarce or abundant in capital. Two elements are critical for determining the length of the resource horizon. First, mineral assets in the ground cannot be transformed into needed financial and physical assets above the ground if commodity prices are not high enough to make the development of the resource commercially viable (i.e. by meeting the investors’ breakeven price). Thus, while a country may have significant mineral reserves potential, only commercially exploitable reserves can be included in the accounting of the resource wealth. Second, the weight of resources in total government revenue is important. The structure of the fiscal regime for extractive industries determines when and how much resource revenue flows into the budget. A long resource horizon implies that the contribution of resources to the budget is significant and can be sustained over a long period of time.9 Table 2 provides examples of this taxonomy for several resource-rich countries, by drawing on recent analytical work at the IMF (2012b).

Table 2.

Guiding Matrix for Fiscal Frameworks: Objectives and Fiscal Anchors

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Source: IMF (2012).

11. When the resource horizon is short, issues of resource exhaustibility become critical for the fiscal framework. For Mauritania, in the baseline scenario resource revenues are projected to average 5 percent of non-resource GDP over the next decade and then gradually decline as the process of economic diversification takes place. This relatively low and declining contribution of resource revenue can be regarded as a scenario in which the resource horizon is short (less than 30 years), and government consumption must be smoothed over time to address issues of sustainability and intergenerational equity. In this case, fiscal policy is recommended to be anchored to a non-resource primary balance rule, where the non-resource primary deficit is set in line with a long-run sustainability benchmark that takes into account the finiteness of the resource wealth.

12. When resource flows are long-lasting, the focus of the fiscal framework should be on managing price uncertainty and investment in growth-supporting projects in the short to medium term. In the upside scenario of expanded production, resource revenues in Mauritania could become large, averaging 11 percent of non-resource GDP over the next decade and sustained over a long period of time, increasing the budget’s exposure to volatility from global commodity markets. At the same time, the fiscal space could increase markedly. Addressing absorptive capacity constraints and mitigating risks associated with diversion of resources to non-productive expenditure should become priority objectives of the fiscal policy. In this scenario, fiscal policy is recommended to be anchored to a primary structural balance rule, where the resource component of budget revenue is calculated on the basis of cyclically-adjusted (“structural”) prices rather than actual commodity prices.

13. A solid fiscal framework must be accompanied by fiscal institutions that support and reinforce the budget’s role as the main instrument to conduct fiscal policy. This requires strengthening public financial management systems by developing a credible medium-term framework for budget formulation, improving the public investment process, and enhancing fiscal transparency. The authorities’ efforts on this front in the last years go in the right direction and could be accelerated once investment capacity is increased. The possible use of resource funds (primarily for smoothing purposes but also taking into account intergenerational equity considerations, and designed to mirror the fiscal rule) should reinforce the fiscal policy framework, and not be implemented as a separate policy tool. The resource revenue flows and the resource funds should be integrated in the budget process and the public financial management framework, with no parallel spending program.

D. Illustrative Simulations for Mauritania

14. In this section, simulations help assess fiscal policy paths under different resource horizons, investment plans, and external environment assumptions in Mauritania. Mauritania is a capital-scarce country with an uncertain resource horizon. Using the IMF toolkit for designing fiscal rules in resource-rich developing countries (IMF 2012b), it is possible to test both intergenerational equity models (which are appropriate for short resource horizons and link fiscal sustainability benchmarks to variants of the permanent income hypothesis approach) and price-based rule models (which focus on long resource horizons and aim at smoothing resource revenue volatility).

Sustainability analysis

15. A key fiscal indicator for analyzing the fiscal stance in resource-rich developing countries with short resources horizon is the non-resource primary balance (NRPB). This indicator, calculated as non-resource revenues less primary expenditure,10 identifies the impact of government operations on domestic demand in isolation from resource revenues. The level of the NRPB can be used as benchmark for a sustainable level of spending that takes into account the future resource revenue. Three frameworks that link the sustainable level of spending to the future resource revenue are particularly relevant: the permanent income hypothesis (PIH), the modified PIH, and the fiscal sustainability framework (FSF).

16. The PIH framework allows for a constant NRPB deficit over time, limited to a perpetual return on the net resource wealth. The resource wealth can be thought of as the net present value (NPV) of the future stream of financial revenue that the state derives from the exploitation of the resource. The revenue includes production royalties, taxes on profits, withholding on dividends and state participation, as well as any other payments directly related to the extractive activities, calculated annually over the life of the resource. Assuming that the initial budget position is sustainable and that the economic conditions described in Box 1 hold, the PIH rule provides a fiscal space of 0.65 percent of non-resource GDP (Figure 2, upper left panel). This level of spending is considered sustainable because it finances the deficit in perpetuity, beyond the depletion of the mineral resource in the ground. The government’s inter-temporal budget constraint is satisfied because, at this level, the NPV of non-resource primary deficits equals the NPV of the future resource revenue flows.

Sustainability Analysis: Underlying Assumptions

The simulations in Figure 2 compare fiscal policy under three alternative fiscal sustainability rules anchored in the NRPB. The period of analysis spans 36 years, from 2015 through 2050. Several assumptions underpin these simulations:

  • Real non-resource GDP is assumed to grow at a constant rate of 6.4 percent, and nominal non-resource GDP at a rate of 11.8 percent (under the PIH and modified PIH rules). Inflation stays constant at 5.1 percent throughout the period. (The rates reflect long-term averages currently used in the macro framework agreed between IMF staff and the authorities.)

  • Non-resource revenue (excluding grants) is assumed to stay constant, as share of non-resource GDP, at 23 percent.

  • The annual resource revenue flows are derived from the FARI fiscal forecasting model, which calculates the fiscal payments for individual mines taking into account underlying project economics and then aggregates the flows across the sector (Figure 1). Commodity prices come from the October 2014 WEO which assumes that the iron ore price converges to US$85 per metric ton in the long-term.

  • The mineral wealth is calculated as the net present value of government revenues from minerals through 2050 (as of end of 2014) under the base case scenario (of neither phosphate nor natural gas development). Using a discount rate of 12.5 percent, equivalent to the market return of an asset on the equity market, the mineral wealth is of MRO 1,336 billion at the beginning of 2015 (the equivalent of 1.15 the non-resource GDP of the country in 2013). From 2015 on, the net mineral wealth at the end of each year is calculated taking into account both the net financial savings accumulated from mineral operations during the year and the net present value of future expected mineral revenues.

  • The traditional PIH rule assumes that the NRPB remains constant over time and is financed with the rate of return on the remaining net mineral wealth at the end of each year. In the baseline scenario, the NRPB deficit corresponding to the PIH sustainability benchmark is of 0.65 percent of non-resource GDP.

  • The modified PIH rule allows for an increase in public investment spending of MRO 1,081 billion over five years, between 2015 and 2019, the equivalent of 18 percent of the country’s 2013 non-resource GDP. During this period, the NRPB reaches a maximum deficit of 2.9 percent of non-resource GDP. The fiscal consolidation is assumed to take place over a period of 10 years starting in 2020, when the NRPB runs at surpluses of up to 0.9 percent. By 2031, when the fiscal adjustment is concluded, fiscal policy returns to the PIH benchmark of -0.65 percent of non-resource GDP.

  • The Fiscal Sustainability Framework, which incorporates the positive impact of higher public investment on growth, generates a fiscally sustainable path that is consistent with a lower level of the NRPB deficit, at 0.25 percent of the non-resource GDP.

Source: IMF staff calculations.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Mauritania: Sustainability Assessment Indicators

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 036; 10.5089/9781498354226.002.A001

Source: IMF Staff calculations.

17. The modified version of the PIH framework allows for a deviation from the constant NRPB deficit target to accommodate temporary frontloading of capital spending. The PIH approach could be an excessively tight fiscal benchmark in developing countries with a relatively certain extraction horizon, high investment needs, and proven capacity to absorb an acceleration of public spending on capital assets. In a modified PIH (MPIH) framework, transformative investment in human and infrastructure capital could be frontloaded in the medium term in anticipation of future resource revenues to enhance potential economic growth. However, in order to satisfy the intertemporal budget constrain, fiscal adjustment would be required later on, particularly if the scaling up of public investment does not result in higher growth. For Mauritania, simulations indicate that a nominal increase in public investment of 18 percent relative to the baseline in the next five years would require an adjustment of 0.34 percent of GDP on average between 2020 and 2030 (Figure 2, upper right panel). This adjustment is necessary in order to rebuild financial assets to a level that can support budgetary needs in the long run, at the same level as those under the traditional PIH approach. With this calibration, the inter-temporal budget constraint is satisfied: the NPV of the investment frontloading equals the NPV of the future adjustment and the overall effect on wealth remains unchanged (under the assumption of no spillover growth effects from higher spending in the short term).

18. The Fiscal Sustainability Framework (FSF) is a variation of the modified PIH that incorporates ex-ante expectations that the initial public investment has important spillover effects on economic growth. The FSF allows for an initial drawdown of government resources for investment in growth-enhancing capital, but later stabilizes the NRPB at a level inferior to that under the PIH or the modified PIH. Even if the long-run NRPB level is lower under the FSF, the primary expenditure can be stabilized at a higher level because the initial investment has multiplying effects on the economy, leading to higher growth and non-resource revenues (Figure 2, middle left panel). The net wealth stabilization depends on the non-resource growth assumptions—a stark contrast with the PIH and MPIH frameworks that focus on preserving the full amount of financial wealth and do not include non-resource growth spillovers (Figure 2, bottom left panel).

19. When the resource horizon is long, managing the volatility of resource revenue takes precedence over issues of sustainability. A fiscal policy anchored to a structural resource balance target helps to remove the effect of commodity price volatility by applying price-based rules.11 Under the price-based rule, budgetary revenues are projected using a smoothed (“structural”) price. When actual commodity prices are higher than the structural price, realized revenues are higher than budgetary revenues and the surplus is accumulated in a stabilization buffer. Conversely, when actual prices are lower than the structural price, the deficit is covered by withdrawing funds from the stabilization buffer.

20. In choosing a price-rule formula, consideration must be given to the preference for smoothing spending and the need to adjust to changes in price trends. Price formulas with a short backward-looking horizon track better changes in prices, but may lead to more volatile expenditure envelopes that can fuel procyclical fiscal policy. Price formulas with longer backward-looking horizons allow smoother expenditure paths, but may systematically undershoot or overshoot actual revenues if price trends change (IMF 2012b). To simulate the effect of a structural balance anchor, three price rules were modeled for Mauritania: a five-year rolling average of historical average (5/0/0) following Ghana’s budget oil price formula; a moving average of the past five years, the current year, and projected prices for the next five years (5/1/5) as in Trinidad and Tobago; and an average of the past 12 years, the current year, and three years of futures prices (12/1/3) as introduced in Mongolia in 2013 for the copper budget price.12 These specifications were applied simultaneously to all three commodities contributing to government revenue in Mauritania in the base case scenario (iron ore, copper, and gold). Simulations indicate that, of the three rules, the 5/1/5 benchmark reduces volatility relative to actual prices while responding better to changes in prices trends (Box 2).

Volatility Analysis: Price Smoothing


Alternative benchmarks: iron ore prices

(CIF, USD/metric tonne)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 036; 10.5089/9781498354226.002.A001


Alternative benchmarks: gold prices


Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 036; 10.5089/9781498354226.002.A001

The figures above illustrate alternative benchmark iron ore and gold prices using historical and projected WEO values. For the medium term (2015-17), the moving average of the past five years (5/0/0) is the most optimistic benchmark. The moving average that incorporates the prior 12 years (12/1/3) offers a more conservative approach in the medium term, yet historically it would have been a poor benchmark because it would have undershot prices heavily over 2007-13. Given the present uncertainty as to where markets are positioned relative to the commodity cycle, a benchmark that gives equal weight to backward- and forward-looking prices, such as the moving average of 11 years (5/1/5), could provide a more balanced perspective.

21. The level of the fiscal anchor must be determined in the context of the country’s debt position. A structural surplus should be targeted because of risk factors (such as contingent liabilities), but also as a function of Mauritania’s existing absorptive capacity constraints, at least in the medium term. Simulations indicate that a structural balance rule targeting a surplus of 1 percent of non-resource GDP and with the price calculated as the moving average over 11 years (5/1/5) could smooth public expenditure growth, stabilize the overall primary balance, and allow an accumulation of financial savings to reduce government debt (Figure 3, upper and middle row panels).

Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Mauritania: Managing Volatility Indicators

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2015, 036; 10.5089/9781498354226.002.A001

Source: IMF staff calculations.

22. As an illustration, an additional cap on real expenditure growth could further limit procyclicality and allow a higher accumulation of financial savings. Absorption capacity considerations may call for a cap on overall expenditure growth. Other countries (such as Mongolia) have used expenditure caps in combination with other fiscal anchors to smooth expenditure. Generating more predictable changes in spending could be particularly important for Mauritania if, for example, the Banda Gas project comes on stream and phosphate resources are developed (according to the extended scenario). Under the fiscal anchor of 1 percent structural resource surplus and a 5/1/5 price-smoothing rule, imposing an additional cap on real expenditure growth of 7 percent brings the level of financial savings up from 37 percent to 42 percent of non-resource GDP by 2049 (Figure 3, bottom row panels). Part of these financial savings could be set aside in stabilization buffers, with anything in excess saved for future generations.

E. Strengthening Institutions

23. Mauritania needs to strengthen its fiscal institutions to support transparent and efficient use of its resource wealth. A key precondition to strengthening fiscal institutions is advancing the public financial management (PFM) reforms initiated over the past years. A new Organic Budget Law (OBL), prepared in draft form in 2012, still needs formal adoption by Cabinet and Parliament. The new law will include fiscal principles, setting of fiscal objectives, a medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF), improved documentation, and a budgetary timetable with more time for legislative scrutiny (IMF 2013). The introduction of a binding MTEF encompassing the public investment program (PIP) is particularly important as a tool for monitoring fiscal policy and planning capital investment spending. More sophisticated fiscal risks analysis will also be needed to support that the government’s fiscal strategy is robust to a range of risks, including commodity price and production fluctuations.

24. Equally critical is to lay the foundations for a fiscal rule to specifically address natural resource wealth considerations. Basic provisions should include fiscal objectives, the fiscal anchor, interactions with a natural resource fund, as well as escape clauses under which fiscal policy may deviate from the fiscal rule. Well-designed escape clauses are critical to preventing exceptional and unforeseeable shocks from undermining the credibility of the fiscal rule. The experience of the oil fund, whose operations have generally set an example of transparency and accountability, could serve as starting point for the design of a more comprehensive resource fund to include mineral revenue. Surplus revenues from the execution of the fiscal rule should flow into the resource fund, which would first play a budget stabilization function by providing a buffer to protect planned capital expenditure against resource revenue volatility. Any additional surplus above this buffer would then be channeled into a savings portfolio for future generations. The resource fund should thus be a complementary policy tool that mirrors the fiscal rule, with fund flows fully integrated into the budget process.

25. To ensure that these reforms are implemented on a sustained basis, enhanced transparency and communication remain critical. A good starting point is a transparent budget formulation and execution reporting system, in which Mauritania already has a good record, including multi-year fiscal objectives which are clearly defined and published openly, with ex-post reporting to Parliament and the general public. Further, fiscal performance will preferably include all financial transactions involving the state-owned enterprises, the central government, and the general government, with identification of fiscal risks.

F. Conclusions

26. Mauritania has important natural resource wealth, and its fiscal policy is shaped by considerations resulting from its reliance on resource revenues. Prospects for price shocks in the short term and significant mining expansion in the long term could pose significant challenges to fiscal policy management. Like other commodity exporting countries, Mauritania needs to avoid procyclical fiscal policies and adopt rules that guide medium-term policy and help gain in policy predictability. Fiscal frameworks that link the sustainable level of spending to future resource revenues could be particularly relevant in the context of Mauritania. As a low income country scarce in capital, consideration could also be given to frontloading public expenditure for productive investment, within debt management constraints.

27. The choice of the fiscal anchor will be guided by the authorities’ view on the exhaustibility of the resources. The length of the resource horizon is ultimately a function of two factors: the market conditions that determine to what extent it is economically viable to develop the resource potential of the country; and the fiscal regime for extractive industries which determines the time profile and the weight of the resource revenue in the budget. Under the assumption of finite resources, the authorities should monitor a non-resource primary balance linked to a fiscal sustainability benchmark that takes into account estimates of the total resource wealth. Under the assumption of a long-term resource horizon, fiscal policy should target a structural primary resource balance to isolate the budget execution from shocks arising from commodity price fluctuations. Future discussions and analysis will be needed to pin down the technical details of a fiscal rule.

28. Fiscal frameworks for resource wealth management require strong institutions. This entails strong commitment to transparency, policy predictability and credibility, good governance structures, and an enhanced quality of institutions. The adoption of the new OBL would lay the foundations for a modern public financial management system and the implementation of a fiscal framework geared toward the specific challenges associated with managing the resource wealth to support fiscal sustainability.


  • Daniel, P., and others, 2010, “Evaluating Fiscal Regimes for Resource Projects: An Example from Oil Development,in The Taxation of Petroleum and Minerals: Principles, Problems and Practices, ed. by Philip Daniel, Michael Keen, and Charles McPherson (London and New York: Routledge and IMF).

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Prepared by Oana Elena Luca.


A new quartz mining project is not included in the analysis because sufficient information was unavailable at the time of writing this report.


A lack of transport infrastructure currently hinders the development of the phosphate mine.


The Mining Code of 1999, under which most existing companies acquired their licenses, established a royalty payment of 1.5 percent on the sales value of iron ore and 3 percent on gold and copper; 30 percent corporate income tax after a three-year tax holiday; and 16 percent withholding on dividends. Revisions made in 2008, increasing the iron ore royalty to 2 percent while reducing the income tax rate to 25 percent and the withholding on dividends to 10 percent, were preserved in the new Mining Code of 2012. The latter introduced progressive royalty rates linked to prices, and implemented a 10 percent unpaid state participation. In practice, however, mining companies currently operate on the basis of negotiated terms with important variations from the applicable general legislation.


For a detailed explanation of the FARI modeling framework, see IMF (2012a) and Daniel (2010).


The Banda Gas project could yield, over a period of 20 years, US$2.6 billion in government revenue from upstream activities (gas production) in the form of profit gas and corporate income tax (World Bank 2014).


The oil fund was established in 2006 and, despite the decline in production, has grown in recent years on account of higher oil prices.


Fiscal savings would be accumulated when prices are high, and drawn on them to meet budget expenditure (according to a pre-determined fiscal rule) when prices are low.


Government revenues from extractive industries vary significantly across countries (IMF 2012b). A rule of thumb for determining whether their contribution is significant and sustained could be, in the case of mining producers, if resource revenues represent more than 15-20 percent of total budget revenues over a period of 30 years or more.


Primary expenditures are expenditures net of interest payments and income.


The fiscal anchor could be defined as the cyclically-adjusted balance—where the fiscal stance is assessed by correcting for the impact of not only commodity price shocks, but also of the output trend, asset price cycles and one-off factors. This analysis assumes only adjustments for commodity price cycles.


These price-smoothing rules are used illustratively here and a more detailed analysis should calibrate them to the specific situation of Mauritania.

Islamic Republic of Mauritania: Selected Issues Paper
Author: International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.