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International Monetary Fund
GCC policymakers moved quickly to mitigate the health and economic impacts of twin COVID-19 and oil price shocks. Infection rates have declined across the GCC to well below previous peaks, though countries have experienced successive waves of the virus, and economic recoveries have begun to take hold. Nevertheless, GCC policymakers must navigate a challenging and uncertain landscape. The pandemic continues to cloud the global outlook as countries are in different phases of recovery, with varied growth prospects and policy space
Aissatou Diallo
Many Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, like Benin, have scaled up public investment during the last decade. Such a strategy contributed to the improvement of infrastructure, but also to a build-up of debt vulnerabilities. Looking forward, the planned fiscal consolidation will result in some restraint of public spending, and, in particular, public investment. In this context, maintaining or even raising the region’s economic growth will require an offset by the private sector. The analysis draws lessons from countries that have successfully transitioned from public investment to private investment-led growth using a global sample starting in the mid-1980s. These lessons highlight policies that have been crucial in fostering a rebound of private investment in the wake of a contraction of public investment. The analytical framework proposed by Hausman, Rodrik and Velasco (2005) is used to identify and classify such policies. Finally, the paper analyses how the identified policies could help Benin achieving a smooth transition from public to private sector-led growth.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having far-reaching consequences for the global economy. Measures to contain the spread of the virus have led to sharp declines in economic activity across the globe, particularly in 2020Q2. The hardest hit sectors have been those requiring intensive human contact, such as tourism, transportation, services, and construction, while, in general, IT-intensive activities have fared better. The economic contraction is most significant in advanced economies. The GCC countries face a double impact from the coronavirus and lower oil prices. GCC authorities have implemented a range of appropriate measures to mitigate the economic damage, including fiscal packages, relaxation of monetary and macroprudential rules, and the injection of liquidity into the banking system, and there are recent signs of improvement. Low oil prices have caused a sharp deterioration of external and fiscal balances, and fiscal strains are evident in countries with higher debt levels.
Mr. Tokhir N Mirzoev, Ling Zhu, Yang Yang, Ms. Tian Zhang, Mr. Erik Roos, Mr. Andrea Pescatori, and Mr. Akito Matsumoto
The Future of Oil and Fiscal Sustainability in the GCC Region
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses a growth-at-risk (GaR) model which is used to compute a distribution of expected GDP growth for Benin. The model predicts growth rates of ~6.7 percent for 2019 and a range of 6.4–6.8 percent in the medium-term (depending on the specification). Risks to future growth are assessed to be tilted to the downside. 2019 GDP growth is estimated around 6.7 percent, on average, across several specifications. The model considers external factors (world trade, global financial conditions, trade policy uncertainty, and US consumer sentiment), country-specific exposures to external factors (commodity terms of trade and trade-partner growth), and domestic factors (domestic financial conditions, fiscal policy, and the exchange rate). The analysis reveals that growth projections estimated both for the median and mode are slightly higher conditioned on 2018 data, yet when expectations about 2019 are considered using World Economic Outlook projections they fall. Overall, risks seem to be tilted to the downside. Medium term growth is estimated at between 6.4 and 6.8 percent. Risks to growth remain tilted to the downside, yet less skewed than in the short term.
Mr. Armand P Fouejieu, Mr. Sergio L. Rodriguez, and Mr. Sohaib Shahid
This paper estimates fiscal multipliers for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Using OLS panel fixed effects on a sample of six countries from 1990-2016, results indicate that GCC fiscal multipliers have declined in recent years which would make the on-going fiscal consolidation less costly than previously thought. Though both capital and current multipliers have declined in recent years, capital multipliers are larger than current multipliers, which implies that reducing (less productive) current spending will help limit the adverse impact of such measures on growth.
International Monetary Fund
growth in expenditure, GCC governments have started to implement significant fiscal consolidation measures, but more needs to be done. Rapid population growth and booming oil revenues led to large increases in government spending in the GCC in the decade to 2014, which now stands high by international standards. This expenditure is dominated by compensation of employees and other current spending which are large in percent of GDP compared to Emerging Market (EM) countries and other oil exporters. This keeps overall spending above levels consistent with long-term fiscal sustainability and intergenerational equity. The international experience with large fiscal adjustments provides some key lessons for GCC countries. This experience suggests that growth outcomes improve when fiscal adjustments are sustained as part of credible multi-year fiscal plans, rely on expenditure more than revenue adjustment, and lead to improvements in expenditure composition (away from current outlays to more productive spending) and the structure of revenue (away from direct to indirect taxation). Successful fiscal adjustments also tend to be part of wider structural reforms that support growth.
International Monetary Fund
Global economic activity is gaining momentum. Global growth is forecast at 3.6 percent this year, and 3.7 percent in 2018, compared to 3.2 percent in 2016. Risks around this forecast are broadly balanced in the near term, but are skewed to the downside over the medium term. The more positive global growth environment should support somewhat stronger oil demand. With inflation in advanced countries remaining subdued, monetary policy is expected to remain accommodative. GCC countries are continuing to adjust to lower oil prices. Substantial fiscal consolidation has taken place in most countries, mainly focused on expenditure reduction. This is necessary, but it has weakened non-oil growth. With the pace of fiscal consolidation set to slow, non-oil growth is expected to increase to 2.6 percent this year, from 1.8 percent last year. However, because of lower oil output, overall real GDP growth is projected to slow to 0.5 percent in 2017 from 2.2 percent in 2016. Growth prospects in the medium-term remain subdued amid relatively low oil prices and geopolitical risks. Policymakers have made a strong start in adjusting fiscal policy. While the needed pace of fiscal adjustment varies across countries depending on the fiscal space available, in general countries should continue to focus on recurrent expenditure rationalization, further energy price reforms, increased non-oil revenues, and improved efficiency of capital spending. Fiscal consolidation should be accompanied by a further improvement in fiscal frameworks and institutions. The direction of fiscal policy in the GCC is broadly consistent with these recommendations. Policies should continue to be geared toward managing evolving liquidity situations in the banking system and supporting the private sector’s access to funding. While countries have made progress in enhancing their financial policy frameworks, strengthening liquidity forecasting and developing liquidity management instruments will help banks adjust to a tighter liquidity environment. Banks generally remain profitable, well capitalized, and liquid, but with growth expected to remain relatively weak, the monitoring of financial sector vulnerabilities should continue to be enhanced. Diversification and private sector development will be needed to offset lower government spending and ensure stronger, sustainable, and inclusive growth. This will require stepped-up reforms to improve the business climate and reduce the role of the public sector in the economy through privatization and PPPs. Reforms are needed to increase the incentives for nationals to work in the private sector and for private sector firms to hire them. Increasing female participation in the labor market and employment would benefit productivity and growth across the region. Where fiscal space is available, fiscal policy can be used to support the structural reforms needed to boost private sector growth and employment.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Saudi Arabia has begun a fundamental policy shift to respond to low oil prices. The government has introduced a series of reforms over the past year and has recently set out plans for a bold and ambitious transformation of the Saudi Arabian economy in Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program. Diversifying the economy, creating jobs for nationals in the private sector, and implementing a gradual, but sizable and sustained fiscal consolidation are key policy priorities.