As of end-2021, Botswana had recovered to its pre-crisis output level thanks to a strong rebound in demand for diamonds, a successful vaccination campaign, and policy support. Fiscal and current account deficits both narrowed sharply, and foreign reserves stabilized but buffers are yet to be fully rebuilt. Inflation exceeded the central bank’s medium-term objective range, while unemployment rose close to record highs. Growth in 2022 and beyond is expected to be around potential, while fiscal and external positions are projected to strengthen with more favorable terms of trade and strong fiscal consolidation. Risks to the outlook are associated with the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, and the implementation of fiscal consolidation and economic diversification plans.
Karim Barhoumi, Seung Mo Choi, Tara Iyer, Jiakun Li, Franck Ouattara, Mr. Andrew J Tiffin, and Jiaxiong Yao
The COVID-19 crisis has had a tremendous economic impact for all countries. Yet, assessing the full impact of the crisis has been frequently hampered by the delayed publication of official GDP statistics in several emerging market and developing economies. This paper outlines a machine-learning framework that helps track economic activity in real time for these economies. As illustrative examples, the framework is applied to selected sub-Saharan African economies. The framework is able to provide timely information on economic activity more swiftly than official statistics.
A technical assistance (TA) mission was conducted by the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Regional Technical Assistance Center for Southern Africa (AFS)1 during November 22–26, 2021 to continue assisting Statistics Botswana (SB) with developing the producer price index (PPI). Due to ongoing COVID-19 related travel restrictions, this mission was conducted remotely using Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, and email. Previous missions to assist with developing price indexes were held in February 2019 and October 2020.
This paper investigates the dynamic impact of natural resource discoveries on government debt sustainability. We use a ‘natural experiment’ framework in which the timing of discoveries is treated as an exogenous source of within-country variation. We combine data on government debt, fiscal stress and debt distress episodes on a large panel of countries over 1970-2012, with a global repository of giant oil, gas, and mineral discoveries. We find strong and robust evidence of a ‘fiscal presource curse’, i.e., natural resources can jeopardize fiscal sustainability even before ‘the first drop of oil is pumped’. Specifically, we find that giant discoveries, mostly of oil and gas, lead to permanently higher government debt and, eventually, debt distress episodes, specially in countries with weaker political institutions and governance. This evidence suggest that the curse can be mitigated and even prevented by pursuing prudent fiscal policies and borrowing strategies, strengthening fiscal governance, and implementing transparent and robust fiscal frameworks for resource management.