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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Dominica has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with an estimated decline in GDP of 11 percent in 2020 underpinned by a sharp reduction in tourism receipts that affected connected sectors and by lockdown measures to limit virus contagion. The output decline was contained by health spending, social transfers, and public investment resilient to natural disasters which increased significantly, leading to an increase in public debt to 106 percent of GDP despite record-high Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) revenue. The financial sector remained stable and liquid, but vulnerability continue to be significant in the under-capitalized non-bank sector.
Mr. Tamim Bayoumi, Mr. Saad N Quayyum, and Sibabrata Das
The paper analyzes the impact of natural disasters on per-capita GDP growth. Using a quantile regressions and growth-at-risk approach, the paper examines the impact of disasters and policy choices on the distribution of growth rather than simply its average. We find that countries that have in place disaster preparedness mechanisms and lower public debt have lower probability of witnessing a significant drop in growth as a consequence of a natural disaster, but our innovative methodology in this paper finds that the two policies are complements since their effectiveness vary across different disaster scenarios. While both are helpful for small to mid-size disasters, lower debt—and hence more fiscal space—is more beneficial in the face of very large disasters. A balanced strategy would thus involve both policies.
Vivian Parlak, Mr. Gonzalo Salinas, and Mr. Mauricio Vargas
We measure the impact of frequent exogeneous shocks on small ECCU economies, including changes to global economic activity, tourism flows, oil prices, passport sales, FDI, and natural disasters. Using Canonical-Correlation Analysis (CCA) and dynamic panel regression analysis we find significant effects of most of these shocks on output, while only fluctuations in oil prices have significant effects on inflation. Results also suggest a significant impact of FDI and passport sales on the external balance, a link that CCA identifies as the strongest among all analyzed relations. The model also shows how Covid-19 related shocks lead to substantial contractions in output in all ECCU countries and deterioration of the current account balance in most of them, depending on countries’ tourism dependency.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Dominica is among the countries most vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change. During 1997-2017, it was the country with highest GDP losses to climate-related natural disasters and ranked in the top 10 percent among 182 countries for climate-related fatalities. Following a huge devastation, owing to back-to-back major storms in 2015 and 2017, Dominica announced its intention to become the first disaster resilient nation. In 2019, it was agreed with the government that the Fund, in consultation and collaboration with other development partners, would provide support for preparing a Disaster Resilience Strategy (DRS), a comprehensive plan including policies, cost, and financing to build resilience against natural disasters.
Mr. Alejandro D Guerson
This paper estimates insurance requirements against natural disasters (NDs) in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) using an insurance layering framework. The layers include a government saving fund, as well as market instruments. Each layer is calibrated to cover estimated fiscal cost of NDs according to intensity and expected damage. The results indicate that ECCU countries could target saving fund stocks for relativelly smaller and more frequent events in the range of 6-12 percent of GDP, enough to cover 95 percent of NDs’ fiscal costs. To ensure financially-sustainable saving funds with a low probability of depletion, this requires annual budget savings in the range os 0.5 to 1.9 percent of GDP per year. Additional coverage could be obtained with market instruments for large and less frequent events, albeit at a significant cost.The results are based on a Monte-Carlo experiment that simulates natural disaster shocks and their impact on output and government finances.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper discusses St. Lucia’s Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility. IMF financing support provides resources to the countries’ authorities for essential health-related expenditures and income support to ease the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 on the population. In order to address the pandemic, the authorities announced measures to help employees and households, including income support to the unemployed, tax relief, and providing cash transfers to the most vulnerable and affected. The countries’ governments have responded to the pandemic by swiftly implementing containment measures, allocating scarce budgetary resources to critical health care spending, and introducing income support to the most affected sectors and households. Protection of the financial system will help cushion the economic impact of the pandemic. Measures have also been taken by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to facilitate the provision of credit and safeguard financial stability. The IMF will continue to be engaged with Dominica, Grenada, and St. Lucia, and stands ready to provide policy advice and further support as needed.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper presents IMF’s 2019 Discussion on Common Policies of Member Countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). ECCU’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth accelerated from 3/4 percent in 2017 to 3 3/4 percent in 2018, reflecting buoyancy in the tourism sector, sizable Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) inflows, and a recovery from the 2017 hurricanes in Anguilla and Dominica, which were supported by large public investments in reconstruction. Fiscal deficits increased in 2018–2019, but they have remained moderate. Efforts are needed to streamline, and re-balance tax incentives based on clear principles consistent with international best practices. External imbalances are sizable and significant financial sector vulnerabilities affect both banks and non-banks. Growth is projected to gradually moderate toward its long-term average of 2 1/4 percent as the cyclical momentum normalizes and CBI inflows ease. These trends would also contribute to wider fiscal deficits, ending the downward drift in public debt dynamics. The outlook is clouded by downside risks, including a possible intensification of natural disasters and financial sector weaknesses.