Burundi’s economy has shown resilience to the COVID-19 and Ukraine war shocks. Prior to the pandemic, the economy was recovering from the political and security crisis that followed late President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in 2015, with growth close to 2 percent in 2019. Difficult macroeconomic policy challenges persisted, nevertheless. The pandemic has taken a toll on the post-conflict fragile country, but COVID-19 contagion remained fairly contained and growth was positive. The war in Ukraine is compounding the adverse effects of the pandemic, with deteriorating terms of trade and the resulting domestic inflation threatening already-challenging living standards. Sanctions from the U.S. and E.U.—legacy of the 2015 crisis—have now been lifted. The U.N. Security Council ended mandatory reporting in Burundi and the country has reengaged with the international community. The 2022 Article IV consultation seals the full reengagement with the IMF—the last one was concluded in 2014.
Burundi is a fragile state with a history of political tensions and weak institutions. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Burundi was recovering from an economic recession triggered by the 2015 political crisis stemming from the late President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term. Real GDP growth was positive, at 1.8 percent in 2019, but difficult policy challenges persisted.
International Monetary Fund. Office of Budget and Planning
Amidst the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, the Fund faces twin challenges. Signs of early crisis recovery are uneven across countries, and many face daunting crisis legacies. At the same time, longer term challenges from climate change, digitalization and increasing divergence within and between countries demand stepped up effort by the Fund within its areas of expertise and in partnership with others. FY 22-24 budget framework. Considering these challenges and following a decade of flat real budgets, staff will propose a structural augmentation for consideration by fall 2021 to be implemented over two to three years beginning in FY 23. Recognizing the importance of ongoing fiscal prudence, the budget would remain stable thereafter on a real basis at a new, higher level. FY 22 administrative budget. The proposed FY 22 budget sustains crisis response and provides incremental resources for long-term priorities within the flat real budget envelope. The budget is built on extensive reprioritization; savings, including from modernization; and a proposed temporary increase in the carry forward ceiling to address crisis needs during the FY 22 to FY 24 period. Capital budget. Large-scale business modernization programs continue to be rolled out, strengthening the agility and efficiency of the Fund’s operations. In response to the shift towards cloud-based IT solutions, staff propose a change in the budgetary treatment of these expenses. Investment in facilities will focus on timely updates, repairs, and modernization, preparing for the post-crisis Fund where virtual engagement and a new hybrid office environment play a larger role. Budget sustainability. The FY 22–24 medium-term budget framework, including assumptions for a material augmentation, is consistent with a projected surplus in the Fund’s medium-term income position and with continued progress towards the precautionary balance target for coming years. Budget risks. In the midst of a global crisis, risks to the budget remain elevated and above risk acceptance levels, including from uncertainty around the level of demand for Fund programs and ensuing staffing needs, as well as future donor funding for CD. Enterprise risk management continues to be strengthened with this budget.
Economic impact. COVID-19 is having an adverse economic impact on Burundi. The pandemic is affecting Burundi through an evolving domestic outbreak and economic spillovers from the global and regional environment, including from the containment measures introduced in trading partners and neighboring countries. Economic growth projections for 2020 have been revised down by 5.3 percentage points to -3.2 percent in 2020. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing economic challenges and creates an external financing need of 4.7 percent of GDP in 2020 and 2021, mainly as a result of lower exports in line with lower foreign demand due to lower global growth and transportation bottlenecks from containment measures in other countries; elevated imports needs related in part to the planned fiscal spending aimed at responding to the pandemic; and reduced remittances inflows. The pandemic has also created a fiscal financing need of 6.9 percent of GDP, which will need to be met mainly from external sources.