Asia and Pacific > Fiji, Republic of

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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Fiji has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic—with infection rates at one point among the highest in the world. Despite swift action by the government to close borders, protect the population, and mitigate the worst economic effects, the economic contraction was the worst in Fiji’s history. The crisis has come at a heavy social cost, including large-scale layoffs, surging unemployment, and high non-performing loans. Multilateral and bilateral support has been critical in helping Fiji weather the worst of the crisis and has facilitated a strong government response—including rapid acceleration of the government vaccination program underpinning Fiji’s reopening to international tourism.

Abstract

Drawing on the Fund’s analytical and capacity development work, including Public Investment Management Assessments (PIMAs) carried out in more than 60 countries, the new book Well Spent: How Strong Infrastructure Governance Can End Waste in Public Investment will address how countries can attain quality infrastructure outcomes through better infrastructure governance—an issue becoming increasingly important in the context of the Great Lockdown and its economic consequences. It covers critical issues such as infrastructure investment and Sustainable Development Goals, controlling corruption, managing fiscal risks, integrating planning and budgeting, and identifying best practices in project appraisal and selection. It also covers emerging areas in infrastructure governance, such as maintaining and managing public infrastructure assets and building resilience against climate change.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with the Republic of Fiji highlights that economic activity slowed sharply in 2019 due to lower government spending, tighter domestic financial conditions, weak sentiment, and the global deceleration. The slowdown followed several years of relatively strong growth, boosted by reconstruction spending after a major cyclone in 2016, which resulted in rising external and fiscal imbalances. Fiscal space is now at risk and external vulnerabilities remain significant. Fiji has large investment needs to strengthen resilience to natural disasters and climate change. A key priority should be to rebuild fiscal buffers in a growth-friendly way to create space to respond to future natural disasters and to ensure public debt sustainability. Fiscal consolidation should focus on reining in current spending given limited scope for further revenue mobilization and the need for capital spending to improve resilience to climate change. Improvements in the business environment and in governance are essential to raise potential growth and boost private investment, and to enhance productivity and competitiveness.
Ryota Nakatani
A big challenge for the economic development of small island countries is dealing with external shocks. The Pacific Islands are vulnerable to natural disasters, climate change, commodity price changes, and uncertain donor grants. The question that arises is how should small developing countries formulate a fiscal policy to achieve economic stability and fiscal sustainability when prone to various shocks? We study how natural disasters affect long-term debt dynamics and propose fiscal policy rules that could help insulate the economy from such unexpected shocks. We propose fiscal rules to address these shocks and uncertainties using the example of Papua New Guinea. Our study finds the advantages of expenditure rules, especially a recurrent expenditure rule based on non-resource and non-grant revenue, interdependently determined by government debt and budget balance targets with expected disaster shocks. This paper contributes to the literature and policy dialogue by theoretically analyzing the impact of natural disasters on debt sustainability and proposing fiscal rules against natural disasters and climate changes. Our fiscal policy framework is practically applicable for many developing countries facing increasing frequency and impact of natural disasters and climate change. Our rules-based fiscal framework is crucial for sustainable and countercyclical macroeconomic policies to build resilience against devastating natural hazards.
Hidetaka Nishizawa, Mr. Scott Roger, and Huan Zhang
Pacific island countries (PICs) are vulnerable severe natural disasters, especially cyclones, inflicting large losses on their economies. In the aftermath of disasters, PIC governments face revenue losses and spending pressures to address post-disaster relief and recovery efforts. This paper estimates the effects of severe natural disasters on fiscal revenues and expenditure in PICs. These are combined with information on the frequency of large disasters to calculate the rate of budgetary savings needed to build appropriate fiscal buffers. Fiscal buffers provide self-insurance against natural disaster shocks and facilitate quick disbursement for recovery and relief efforts, and protection of spending on essential services and infrastructure. The estimates can provide a benchmark for policymakers, and should be adjusted to take into account other sources of financing, as well as budget risks from less severe as well as more frequent disasters.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Article IV Consultation highlights that the economy is recovering well from several natural disasters, supported by accommodative fiscal and monetary policies. Growth performance picked up in recent years with improved political stability, though average growth rates were still lower than in other emerging and developing countries. Fiscal buffers have been used and external conditions, including oil prices and growth prospects of main trading partners, are becoming less favorable. Improving the overall business environment and governance is expected to raise potential growth by mobilizing private investment, enhancing productivity, and diversifying the economy. An improvement in the overall business environment is essential to achieve the ambitious growth targets laid out in the National Development Plan. Streamlining procedures to do business, accelerating the activation of the credit reporting agency, and reducing tax compliance costs has been recommended.
Mr. Si Guo and Mr. Futoshi Narita
Pacific island countries are exposed to significant risks from natural disasters. As a disaster relief measure, Fiji allowed pre-retirement pension withdrawls in the wake of Cyclone Winston in 2016. Motivated by this policy action, we provide a normative analysis of the use of early pension withdrawals after disasters, by setting up a life-cycle saving model with myopic households facing large natural disaster shocks. The model demonstrates the key trade-off between building up sufficient retirement savings and ensuring the access to savings against natural disaster shocks, and sheds light on welfare implications of early pension withdrawals.
Hoe Ee Khor, Mr. Roger P. Kronenberg, and Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello

Abstract

Pacific island countries face unique challenges to realizing their growth potential and raising living standards. This book discusses ongoing challenges facing Pacific island countries and policy options to address them. Regional cooperation and solutions tailored to their unique challenges, as well as further integration with the Asia and Pacific region will each play a role. With concerted efforts, Pacific island countries can boost potential growth, increase resilience, and improve the welfare of their citizens.

International Monetary Fund
This report builds on the work in the 2013 Board paper on Fund Engagement with Small States, the 2013 background papers on Asian and Pacific small states and Caribbean small states, and the 2014 staff guidance note. It provides a deeper analysis and policy recommendations in respect of three challenges identified in these papers. Looking ahead, the paper also analyses the impact and possible policy responses to two global economic trends—lower oil prices and diverse movements in major currencies.