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.
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.
Hoe Ee Khor, Mr. Roger P. Kronenberg, and Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello
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.
Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Vladimir Klyuev, and Anuk Serechetapongse
Growth has been sluggish in Pacific island countries (PICs). High cost of credit is likely one of the reasons. While the small scale, geographic dispersion, and vulnerability to shocks increase the cost and risk of credit in this country group, there is considerable variability in interest rate spreads both across countries and over time. This paper examines the determinants of lending rates and interest rate spreads in a panel of six PICs, extending the literature that was largely descriptive in nature or focused on a single country. Our results are in line with economic theory. We find that the size of the economy is negatively correlated with spreads, confirming the importance of scale. Inflation appears to have only marginal impact on spreads. High loan loss provisions and nonperforming loans increase the cost of credit. So does banking system concentration. Higher institutional quality is associated with lower spreads.
The small states of the Asia and Pacific region face unique challenges in raising their growth potential and living standards. These countries are particularly vulnerable because of their small populations, geographical isolation and dispersion, narrow export and production bases, lack of economies of scale, limited access to international capital markets, exposure to shocks (including climate change), and heavy reliance on aid. In providing public services, they face higher fixed government costs relative to other states because public services must be provided regardless of their small population size. Low access to credit by the private sector is an impediment to inclusive growth. Capacity constraints are another key challenge. The small states also face more limited policy tools. Five out of 13 countries do not have a central bank and the scope for diversifying their economies is narrow. Given their large development needs, fiscal policies have been, at times, pro-cyclical. Within the Asia-Pacific small states group, the micro states are subject to more vulnerability and macroeconomic volatility than the rest of the Asia-Pacific small states.
This 2011 Article IV Consultation reports that Fiji’s economic outlook appears stable, but there are downside risks related to the political situation, structural weaknesses, and the global environment. The 2012 budget has proposed much-needed fiscal consolidation, though marginal income tax rate reductions will make it difficult to achieve deficit targets. Monetary policy is accommodative, given the currently benign inflation outlook, but continued vigilance against future inflationary pressure is critical, and credit growth targets should be avoided.
Fiji’s economy has contracted by 3 percent in 2009, and marginal growth is estimated for 2010. Foreign exchange reserves have improved steadily following the April 2009 devaluation and stood at over 4 months of imports (US$710 million) at end 2010. Fiji’s economic growth was low in the past few years and the structure of the economy remained broadly unchanged. The weak business climate results in sluggish private investment and is the major impediment to economic growth in Fiji. Fiji’s economy––especially tourism and finance––is linked closely to its regional neighbors.
Mr. Jonathan C Dunn, Mr. Matt Davies, Yongzheng Yang, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Mr. Shengzu Wang
During the global financial crisis, central banks in Pacific island countries eased monetary policy to stimulate economic activity. Judging by the ensuing movements in commercial bank interest rates and private sector credit, monetary policy transmission appears to be weak. This is confirmed by an empirical examination of interest rate pass-through and credit growth. Weak credit demand and underdeveloped financial markets seem to have limited the effectiveness of monetary policy, but the inflexibility of exchange rates and rising real interest rates have also served to frustrate the central banks’ efforts despite a supporting fiscal policy. While highlighting the importance of developing domestic financial markets in the long run, this experience also points to the need to coordinate macroeconomic policies and to use all macroeconomic tools available in conducting countercyclical policies, including exchange rate flexibility.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on the reasons for the historically weak performance of Vanuatu. Among the key factors, growth has been hindered by substantial barriers to private sector development. Impediments include political uncertainty, high costs of doing business, poor and costly infrastructure, incomplete secured transactions framework, and weak land and property rights. Although these problems are not uncommon in the Pacific island region, Vanuatu’s progress in these structural reforms has been particularly slow, deterring foreign investment and reducing external competitiveness.
This 2002 Article IV Consultation highlights that following the political crisis, Fiji experienced sharp declines in tourism earnings, while external sanctions adversely affected investment and textile exports. As a result, GDP fell 2¾ percent in 2000, and the current account deficit widened to 6½ percent of GDP. Financial stability and the basket peg of the Fiji dollar were maintained through tightening of domestic monetary policy and exchange controls, together with government spending cuts to offset the impact of weaker growth on the fiscal deficit.