Western Hemisphere > Guatemala

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Jean François Clevy, Mr. Guilherme Pedras, and Mrs. Esther Perez Ruiz
The pandemic has urged countries around the globe to mobilize financing to support the recovery. This is even more relevant in Central America, where the policy response to cushion the pandemic’s economic and social impact has accentuated pre-existing debt vulnerabilities. This paper documents the potential for local currency bond markets to diversify and expand financing for the recovery, lowering bond yields, funding volatility, and exposure to global shocks. The paper further identifies priority actions, both national and regional, to support market development.
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.
Mr. Ricardo Fenochietto
This paper analyses and compares two different groups of tools, the first to encourage the use of invoices (or payment systems) and the second to refund the VAT to low-income individuals. The analysis contributes to the existing literature by providing a clear characterization between these two groups of tools that are too often misunderstood and offers clear guidance to policymakers on the benefits and pitfalls of them based on available empirical studies and novel data analysis. Briefly, the first group includes a set of regressive and distortive tools (such as, allowing deducting the VAT paid on personal consumption from the PIT and reducing the VAT rate for using electronic means of payments or registration), while the second group includes tools that are less distortionary and improve income distribution (tax credits and VAT rate reduction targeted only at low-income individuals). This paper also finds that allowing the deduction of personal consumption against the PIT’s taxable base (i) did not impact positively the VAT revenue in Guatemala and (ii) worsens the income distribution in Ecuador.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper focuses on Guatemala’s Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument. The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic is severely impacting Guatemala. Faltering external demand, declining remittances, and the necessary lockdown and social distancing to contain the virus, have disrupted economic activity and severely worsened external and fiscal positions. IMF support under the Rapid Financing Instrument will help address the urgent balance of payments and fiscal needs, improve confidence, and catalyze support from other external partners. In order to support the recovery and counter future shocks, the authorities intend to maintain an accommodative monetary policy stance and exchange rate flexibility. While credit risk regulations have temporarily been eased to facilitate loan restructuring, the authorities are closely monitoring banks’ exposures and the levels of provisioning to ensure the stability of the financial system. The Guatemalan authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to ensure that emergency financing is used effectively, transparently, and through reinforced governance mechanisms.
Dmitry Plotnikov
This paper presents a structural model of crime and output. Individuals make an occupational choice between criminal and legal activities. The return to becoming a criminal is endogenously determined in a general equilibrium together with the level of crime and economic activity. I calibrate the model to the Northern Triangle countries and conduct several policy experiments. I find that for a country like Honduras crime reduces GDP by about 3 percent through its negative effect on employment indirectly, in addition to direct costs of crime associated with material losses, which are in line with literature estimates. Also, the model generates a non-linear effect of crime on output and vice versa. On average I find that a one percent increase in output per capita implies about ½ percent decline in crime, while a decrease of about 5 percent in crime leads to about one percent increase in output per capita. These positive effects are larger if the initial level of crime is larger.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Fundamentals remain strong and growth has revived after three years of subpar performance. Improved budgetary execution and monetary accommodation, broadly in line with past staff advice, are providing demand support as the economy navigates weaker terms of trade. Near-term growth is poised for a rebound on the back of fiscal impulse from the 2019 expansionary budget, exports recovery after last year’s slump, and construction-driven investment. Lack of progress on long-delayed business climate and public sector reforms, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda, and financial inclusion, dampen medium-term prospects.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation discusses that structural reforms, strengthened policy frameworks and the ongoing smooth political transition have laid the foundations for sustained growth in El Salvador. The discussions focused on policies that build on these achievements and address fiscal vulnerabilities, boost long-term growth, and strengthen the governance, anticorruption and Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism frameworks. Continued US dollar appreciation led to a significant decline in inflation and widening of the current account deficit. The authorities agreed that debt would continue to drift upward in the absence of measures, and that weaker-than-expected global growth could have a negative impact on the domestic economy. The authorities emphasized their commitment to guarantee a smooth political transition by sharing information with the new administration and by inviting the Audit Office to oversee the handover process. It is recommended to improve the governance and anticorruption frameworks by increasing the fiscal transparency of the 2020 budget laws, strengthening audit and spending controls, and promptly implementing electronic invoicing.