The economy has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic well. In 2021, real GDP growth strongly rebounded by 7.4 percent, supporting a narrower fiscal deficit of 4.1 percent of GDP and a decline in the public debt ratio, and consistent with a return to pre-pandemic medium-term trend growth.
Albania is preparing a Medium-Term Revenue Strategy (MTRS) to finance its development spending of an estimated 2.2–3.0 percent of GDP over five years. Revenue mobilization will be supported by comprehensive tax policy and administration reforms. International and regional comparisons suggest that there is room for additional revenues as well as improvement in the composition of tax revenues. This report presents options for tax policy reform to raise at least an additional 1.34 percent of GDP in revenues over five years and to improve the quality and efficiency of the tax system, that will enable the mobilization of further domestic revenues.
An economic recovery is underway on the heels of the authorities’ large and timely policy response. By 1Q2021, GDP exceeded its pre-crisis level and growth in 2021 is expected to reach 6.5 percent, supporting a smaller-than-expected fiscal deficit. Headline inflation increased above the 4.5 percent upper limit of the target band in September and October. Regulated energy prices for consumers are not expected to change until next spring, but electricity prices for corporates are set to increase. A new pandemic wave that started in late-July persists though activity seems to have decoupled from infections. With a gradual normalization of demand and supply conditions, growth is projected to reach 4.5 percent in 2022. Inflation is expected to revert to the lower half of the inflation tolerance band in 2H2022 as the effects from this year’s drought wane and energy prices stabilize.
Recent economic developments. Supported by a large policy package, Serbia’s economy rebounded quickly from the initial COVID-19 shock, recording a 1 percent contraction of real GDP in 2020. Job losses have mostly been contained to the informal sector, thanks to policy measures aimed at preserving formal employment. A supplementary budget for 2021 was adopted in April boosting capital expenditure and extending policy support to households and corporates, against the background of third and fourth waves of infections and related containment measures, as well as a weaker-than-expected economic recovery in key trading partners. Inflation remains low. After rising again in late February, infections tapered, helped by new containment measures and the rapid vaccine rollout.
Kosovo has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite policy support, economic activity is estimated to have fallen 6 percent in 2020 on account of the combined effect of strict domestic containment measures and international travel restrictions. The fiscal deficit increased to 7.7 percent of GDP, given the large fall in tax revenues and the implementation of mitigation and recovery measures of 4.2 percent of GDP. The current account deficit is estimated to have increased to 7.5 percent of GDP mainly due to a large decline in diaspora-related inflows, most notably in tourism. Gross international reserves declined but remain adequate in part due to the purchase under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) in April 2020 and the use of other external financing. Banks have weathered the recession well to date, and the high pre-COVID19 liquidity levels and ample capital buffers bode well for the system’s stability.