Middle East and Central Asia > Armenia, Republic of

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Mr. Edward R Gemayel, Ms. Lorraine Ocampos, Matteo Ghilardi, and Mr. James Aylward
Since 2014, large and persistent external shocks have hit the CCA region, particularly a slump in global commodity prices and slower growth in its key economic partners. Fiscal accommodation, along with currency adjustment, has helped the CCA mitigate the impact of the external shocks. However, amid weakening revenues, increased public spending has widened budget deficits, weakened external balances, and increased public debts. Fiscal policy and strengthening fiscal frameworks must play a central role in helping build buffers and ensuring debt sustainability while supporting growth. This requires (1) tightening fiscal policies to reduce deficits to help restore external balance and fiscal sustainability, (2) strengthening tax systems and tax collection and tilting expenditure toward a more productive and growth-enhancing composition, and (3) implementing public financial management reforms and strengthening fiscal institutions, including through fiscal rules.
Ms. Pritha Mitra, Amr Hosny, Gohar Abajyan, and Mr. Mark Fischer
The Middle East and Central Asia’s economic growth potential is slowing faster than in other emerging and developing regions, dampening hopes for reducing persistent unemployment and improving the region’s generally low living standards. Why? And is it possible to alter this course? This paper addresses these questions by estimating potential growth, examining its supply-side drivers, and assessing which of them could be most effective in raising potential growth. The analysis reveals that the region’s potential growth is expected to slow by ¾ of a percentage point more than the EMDC average over the next five years. The reasons behind this slowdown differ across the region. Lower productivity growth drives the slowdown in the Caucasus and Central Asia and is also weighing on growth across the Middle East (MENAP); while a lower labor contribution to potential growth is the main driver in MENAP. Moving forward, given some natural constraints on labor, total factor productivity growth is key to unlocking the region’s higher growth potential. For oil importers, raising physical capital accumulation through greater investment will also play an important role.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

This issue discusses economic developments in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP), which continue to reflect the diversity of conditions prevailing across the region. Most high-income oil exporters, primarily in the GCC, continue to record steady growth and solid economic and financial fundamentals, albeit with medium-term challenges that need to be addressed. In contrast, other countries—Iraq, Libya, and Syria—are mired in conflicts with not only humanitarian but also economic consequences. And yet other countries, mostly oil importers, are making continued but uneven progress in advancing their economic agendas, often in tandem with political transitions and amidst difficult social conditions. In most of these countries, without extensive economic and structural reforms, economic prospects for the medium term remain insufficient to reduce high unemployment and improve living standards.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The Arab Spring holds the promise of improved living standards and a more prosperous future for the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa region. At the same time, the region is witnessing uncertainty and economic pressures from domestic and external sources, which will likely be exacerbated by the recent worsening of the global economy. The main challenge in the short term will be to manage expectations while maintaining economic stability. To that end, better-targeted subsidies and transfers will help free up resources for investment in infrastructure, education, and health. Policies aimed at fostering inclusive growth will also help cement the longer-term benefits of the ongoing changes in the region. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, the economic outlook is broadly positive. Exports and remittances--key growth drivers in 2010--are continuing to grow solidly, helping the recovery gain firm momentum. At the same time, uncertainties over the robustness of the global recovery constitute a downside risk to the growth outlook. Key challenges facing the region over the medium term are to create jobs and foster high and inclusive growth.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The Middle East and Central Asia is undergoing a remarkable transformation driven by rapid GDP growth and high oil and non-oil commodity prices. The report presents common economic trends and reviews prospects and policies for the coming year in light of the global economic environment. This latest REO includes boxes treating both regional topics--such as growth in the Maghreb countries; developments in the oil markets; the boom in the GCC countries, and the impact of the recent global credit squeeze on the region--and country-specific reviews, of Kazakhstan, Armenia, Egypt, Pakistan, and the UAE.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
IEO on IMF exchange rate advice; GFSR: financial system risks and issues for regulators; good times in Belgium; Africa's oil exporters; outlook for Middle East and Central Asia; Caucasus and Central Asia:capital flows; lessons from a decade of crises.
Mr. Tapio Saavalainen and Joy Mylène ten Berge
Quasi-fiscal deficits of public utility companies are common in all member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). They constitute a significant impediment to efficient resource allocation and endanger macroeconomic stability. This paper presents a simple framework for measuring and monitoring such deficits and highlights their macroeconomic relevance. It reviews the progress under IMF conditionality aimed at correcting these imbalances during 1993-2003. The paper suggests that the extensive conditionality under the IMF-supported programs has yielded only limited progress in reducing the energy sector's financial imbalances. In conclusion, different policy options are discussed in light of the lessons learned.
Mr. Jonathan C Dunn, Mr. Andreas Billmeier, and Mr. Bert van Selm
Starting in 2005, nontax revenue in Georgia is expected to rise significantly, in the form of transit fees for oil transported through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline. Transit fees for gas transported through the South Caucasus Pipeline are expected to start in 2007. This paper discusses (1) how much additional revenue can be expected, (2) prospects for monetizing gas that could be received as in-kind transit fees, in the light of pervasive nonpayment in the domestic gas sector, (3) the impact of these inflows on external competitiveness, (4) how to put in place appropriate reporting on these additional revenues, and (5) whether these inflows justify the creation of a special natural resource fund.
International Monetary Fund
This report provides an overview of the recent economic developments in Armenia by analyzing its output growth, prices, wages, employment, public finances and social safety net, monetary and exchange rate developments, balance of payments, external debt developments, and exchange and trade system. The study evaluates the tax system reforms; outlines the present structure of the energy and other major quasi-fiscal sectors, and reviews the causes of the financial imbalances. The appendix provides a characterization of the publicly-owned utility providers that contribute to the financial problems of the energy sector.