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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

2020 Article IV Consultation and Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Tonga

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

This paper discusses recent economic developments, economic outlook, risks, and challenges in Tonga. The Tongan economy has been rebounding since a contraction in FY2013. Growth accelerated from 2.1 percent in FY2014 to 3.7 percent in FY2015, supported by construction, tourism, strong remittances, and strong private credit, notwithstanding weather-related disruptions to agricultural production. The FY2016 real GDP growth is projected to remain relatively strong at 3.1 percent, driven by a recovery in agriculture and an increase in construction activity in preparation for the South Pacific Games. However, a protracted period of slower growth in advanced and emerging market economies, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, could weigh on Tonga via aid, remittances, and tourism channels.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

KEY ISSUESContext: Tonga’s economy is rebounding, partially owing to a recovery in agricultural exports. The outlook for tourism is also improving. The reconstruction from a recent cyclone is expected to lead to both a temporary boost to growth and additional financing needs.Risks to the inflation outlook and the external position are low.Fiscal Policy: The projected fiscal cost relating to the cyclone will be largely met by confirmed funding mainly from donor agencies. In the near term, the authorities should focus on reconstruction activities, while a medium-term fiscal strategy should aim at gradually stabilizing and then reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio, in order to improve Tonga’s moderate risk of debt distress. This will require careful execution of investments related to the 2019 South Pacific Games.Monetary Policy: The deleveraging cycle of the Tongan banks appears to be ending, and thus National Reserve Bank of Tonga should prepare to gradually withdraw liquidity and tighten monetary conditions once the current signs of a recovery of credit growth are confirmed. The authorities plan to lower the cost of credit through supportive credit policies, including by commercializing the Tonga Development Bank. The successful implementation of such plan requires sound safeguards, including a robust governance structure and firm risk management and accountability frameworks.Structural Policy: Structural reforms to facilitate the functioning of credit markets need to be implemented with renewed vigor. The authorities’ intention to gradually phase out existing ad hoc tax incentives is well placed. The promotion of foreign direct investments should focus on business-enabling structural reforms, while the use of tax incentives shouldbe minimized and well targeted.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This staff report on Tonga’s 2013 Article IV Consultation discusses the economic development and policies. Banks in Tonga have been fixing their balance sheets since late 2008. Shrinking the loan books and increasing holdings of reserve assets have prompted negative macro-financial linkages, and reduced business confidence. In response, the National Reserve Bank of Tonga has aggressively infused liquidity into the system, and stepped up risk-based supervision. Progress in improving the regulatory and institutional infrastructure has also continued, including inauguration of a credit bureau. Major gains have been made in budget transparency, the establishment of a Treasury Single Account system, and better prioritization of the budget.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

This staff report on Tonga’s 2013 Article IV Consultation discusses the economic development and policies. Banks in Tonga have been fixing their balance sheets since late 2008. Shrinking the loan books and increasing holdings of reserve assets have prompted negative macro-financial linkages, and reduced business confidence. In response, the National Reserve Bank of Tonga has aggressively infused liquidity into the system, and stepped up risk-based supervision. Progress in improving the regulatory and institutional infrastructure has also continued, including inauguration of a credit bureau. Major gains have been made in budget transparency, the establishment of a Treasury Single Account system, and better prioritization of the budget.