An External Sector Statistics (ESS) technical assistance (TA) mission was conducted remotely to Brunei Darussalam, during July 26–29, 2020, aimed at improving the quality of ESS, in line with the authorities’ request. This is the most recent TA mission on ESS to Brunei Darussalam following a previous one that took place more than 16 years ago by the IMF’s Statistics Department.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Brunei’s economic performance—which was strong before the COVID-19 pandemic—has been buffeted by the health crisis and a pandemic-induced oil and gas price shock. The authorities responded fast and decisively. The number of new infections was quickly suppressed, thanks to a swift public health response, effective health measures and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Strong fiscal and regulatory policy responses helped sustain production and household income and consumption. Past diversification efforts and reforms bore fruit when it was most needed. As a result, the economy performed strongly in 2020, with real GDP posting positive growth of 1.1 percent—a rare outcome amidst negative growth in the region. Economic activity is projected to strengthen in 2021-22, albeit at varying speeds across sectors, and to continue improving over the medium term on the back of further diversification. The outlook is, however, subject to unusual uncertainty, with significant risks skewed to the downside. Sustained strong policy actions are needed to ensure continued resilience, while nurturing green, digital and inclusive growth.
The Financial Action Task Force’s gray list publicly identiﬁes countries with strategic deﬁciencies in their AML/CFT regimes (i.e., in their policies to prevent money laundering and the ﬁnancing of terrorism). How much gray-listing aﬀects a country’s capital ﬂows is of interest to policy makers, investors, and the Fund. This paper estimates the magnitude of the eﬀect using an inferential machine learning technique. It ﬁnds that gray-listing results in a large and statistically signiﬁcant reduction in capital inﬂows.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2019 Article IV Consultation highlights that Brunei’s economy has been adjusting to declining oil production since 2010 and lower oil and gas (O&G) prices since 2014, with the authorities undertaking wide-ranging reforms. Growth is expected to pick up in 2019 to 1.8 percent, with the outlook improving further over the medium term, driven by stronger O&G activities from asset rejuvenation and large foreign direct investment projects. The authorities have made substantial progress in fiscal consolidation, improving the business climate, and developing the financial sector. The fiscal consolidation initiatives include corporatization and privatization, public-private partnership, evaluation of subsidies against targets, fiscal management enhancement, revenue diversification, and amalgamation of the government’s asset management system. The IMF staff supports the authorities’ initiatives to develop the financial sector, while safeguarding financial stability and integrity. The initiatives include steps to broaden the investor base, establish a secondary bond market, develop the required infrastructure and rules for establishing a stock exchange, and put all the three pillars of Basel II in place.
After the decline in oil prices, many oil exporters face the need to improve their external balances. Special characteristics of oil exporters make the exchange rate an ineffective instrument for this purpose and give fiscal policy a sizeable role. These conclusions are supported by regression analysis of the determinants of the current account balance and of the trade balance. The results show little or no relationship with the exchange rate and, especially for the less diversified oil exporters (including the Gulf Cooperation Council), a strong relationship with the fiscal balance or government spending.
This paper leverages the IMF’s Financial Access Survey (FAS) database to construct a new composite index of financial inclusion. The topic of financial inclusion has gathered significant attention in recent years. Various initiatives have been undertaken by central banks both in advanced and developing countries to promote financial inclusion. The issue has also attracted increasing interest from the international community with the G-20, IMF, and World Bank Group assuming an active role in developing and collecting financial inclusion data and promoting best practices to improve financial inclusion. There is general recognition among policy makers that financial inclusion plays a significant role in sustaining employment, economic growth, and financial stability. Nonetheless, the issue of its robust measurement is still outstanding. The new composite index uses factor analysis to derive a weighting methodology whose absence has been the most persistent of the criticisms of previous indices. Countries are then ranked based on the new composite index, providing an additional analytical tool which could be used for surveillance and policy purposes on a regular basis.