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International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
There have been significant improvements to the legal framework and the supervisory process since the last Basel Core Principles (BCP) review; some additional recommended enhancements are highlighted in this assessment. The Superintendency of Financial Institutions (SFC) is an integrated supervisor with a purview that includes banks, finance companies, insurance, securities, and other financial intermediaries. Additionally, the SFC is also the bank resolution authority. To strengthen consolidated supervision, Congress passed Financial Conglomerates Law (FCL) 1870 addressing the supervision of financial conglomerates and granting the SFC supervisory authority over financial conglomerates (CF).2 The FCL strengthened the framework for consolidated supervision, which already included banks and their subsidiaries, by adding holding companies as supervised entities. Moreover, it defined the scope of supervision of financial conglomerates, setting standards with regards to risk management, adequate capital, and corporate governance, as well as minimum requirements for managing concentration risks and conflicts of interest in intragroup and related party exposures. The SFC has strong coordination and cooperation arrangements with foreign supervisors (through signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and the coordination mechanisms derived from the CCSBSO, among others) as well as the authority to request information from parent companies, all of which were further enhanced with the issuance of the FCL. Additionally, the SFC has access and authority to require information from ultimate beneficial owners.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
On March 1, 2021, the IMF Executive Board approved a 36-month arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with access of SDR 1.23749 billion (335 percent of quota, equivalent to US$1.778 billion) to support the country’s response to the pandemic and its reform efforts toward strong, inclusive, and sustainable growth. The authorities’ proactive response to the COVID-19 crisis, combined with sustained export performance, have supported a robust recovery. The outlook remains subject to downside risks, amid tighter global financial conditions, higher commodity prices, and the threat of new COVID variants.
Mario Pessoa, Andrew Okello, Artur Swistak, Muyangwa Muyangwa, Virginia Alonso-Albarran, and Vincent de Paul Koukpaizan
The value-added tax (VAT) has the potential to generate significant government revenue. Despite its intrinsic self-enforcement capacity, many tax administrations find it challenging to refund excess input credits, which is critical to a well-functioning VAT system. Improperly functioning VAT refund practices can have profound implications for fiscal policy and management, including inaccurate deficit measurement, spending overruns, poor budget credibility, impaired treasury operations, and arrears accumulation.This note addresses the following issues: (1) What are VAT refunds and why should they be managed properly? (2) What practices should be put in place (in tax policy, tax administration, budget and treasury management, debt, and fiscal statistics) to help manage key aspects of VAT refunds? For a refund mechanism to be credible, the tax administration must ensure that it is equipped with the strategies, processes, and abilities needed to identify VAT refund fraud. It must also be prepared to act quickly to combat such fraud/schemes.
Valentina Flamini, Pierluigi Bologna, Fabio Di Vittorio, and Rasool Zandvakil
Credit is key to support healthy and sustainable economic growth but excess aggregate credit growth can signal the build-up of imbalances and lead to systemic financial crisis. Hence, monitoring the credit cycle is key to identifying vulnerabilities, particularly in emerging markets, which tend to be more exposed to sudden external shocks and reversal in capital flows. We estimate the credit cycle in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic and find that the creadit gap is a powerful predictor of systemic vulnerability in the region. We simulate the activation of the Basel III countercyclical capital buffers and discuss the macroprudential policy implications of the results, arguing that countercyclical macroprudential policies based on the credit gap could prove useful to enhance the resilience of the region’s financial sector but the activation of macroprudential instruments should also be informed by the development of other macrofinancial variables and by expert judgment.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights the growth of Costa Rica’s economy at its estimated trend rate of about 4.25 percent and an essentially closed output gap. Headline inflation turned positive again in the second half of 2016 and is rising moderately, with both headline and core indicators still below the 2–4 percent target range. The colón has been depreciating moderately since mid-2016, while reserves have declined despite the narrowing in the current account deficit. In 2017, growth is anticipated to slow marginally to 4 percent, driven by weaker terms of trade and more stringent financial conditions.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper describes Costa Rica’s vulnerability to potential policy changes in the United States after the November 2016 presidential election and its effects on Central America. In the near term, the most likely US policy shift is a change in the macroeconomic policy mix, involving an expansionary fiscal policy—implemented initially through tax cuts—and a tighter than previously expected monetary policy stance. The results suggest that Costa Rica could be more affected through the foreign direct investment and trade channels, unlike the rest of Central America, where remittances and immigration play a key role.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper estimates potential output growth and the output gap for Guatemala. Potential output growth averaged 4.4 percent just before the global financial crisis but has since declined to 3.75 percent owing to lower capital accumulation and total factor productivity (TFP) growth. It is estimated at 3.8 percent in 2016, and the output gap has virtually closed. Potential growth is expected to reach 4 percent in the medium term owing to the expected improvements in TFP growth. Policies should also prioritize mobilizing domestic savings to invest and build a higher capital stock.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper looks at the following important issues pertaining to the economy of Costa Rica: micro-financial linkages, financial sector vulnerabilities, monetary policy stance, financial deepening in Costa Rica, financial inclusion in Costa Rica, recent fiscal developments and medium-term sustainability, and female labor force participation in Costa Rica. This paper discusses linkages between the Costa Rican real economy and financial sector. Although increasingly diversified, the Costa Rican financial system is centered on banking intermediation. The banking system is highly segmented and heavily dollarized. To assess the adequacy of the current monetary policy stance, this paper estimates the neutral monetary policy interest rate.