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Ms. Dora Benedek, Mr. Edward R Gemayel, Mr. Abdelhak S Senhadji, and Alexander F. Tieman
The COVID-19 pandemic hit countries’ development agendas hard. The ensuing recession has pushed millions into extreme poverty and has shrunk government resources available for spending on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Staff Discussion Note assesses the current state of play on funding SDGs in five key development areas: education, health, roads, electricity, and water and sanitation, using a newly developed dynamic macroeconomic framework.
Mariya Brussevich
This study examines the socio-economic impact of special economic zones (SEZs) in Cambodia---a prominent place-based policy established in 2005. The paper employs a database on existing and future SEZs in Cambodia with matched household surveys at the district level and documents stylized facts on SEZs in a low-income country setting. To identify causal effects of the SEZ program, the paper (i) constructs an alternative control group including future SEZ program participants and districts adjacent to SEZ hosts; and (ii) employs a propensity score weighting technique. The study finds that entry of SEZs disproportionately benefits female workers and leads to a decline of income inequality at a district level. However, the findings also suggest that land values in SEZ districts tend to rise while wage levels remain largely unchanged relative to other districts. In addition, the paper tests for socio-economic spillovers to surrounding areas and for agglomeration effects associated with clusters of multiple SEZs.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

This evaluation assesses the IMF’s work on countries in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS), addressing both (i) its engagement through surveillance, lending, and capacity development and (ii) the frameworks and procedures for its engagement. It finds that the IMF has provided unique and essential services to FCS to restore macroeconomic stability and rebuild core macroeconomic institutions as prerequisites for state building, playing a role in which no other institution can take its place. In this critical role, it is broadly acknowledged to have had a high impact. While the IMF has provided relatively little direct financing, it has catalyzed donor support through its assessment of a country’s economic policies and prospects. Notwithstanding this positive assessment, the IMF’s overall approach to its FCS work seems to have been conflicted. Not only has it failed consistently to make hard choices necessary to achieve full impact from its engagement in countries where success requires patient and dedicated attention over the long haul, but past efforts have not been sufficiently bold or adequately sustained, and the staff has tended to revert to treating fragile states using IMF-wide norms, rather than as countries needing special attention. The report proposes six recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the IMF’s FCS work: (i) to issue a statement of high-level commitment to FCS work for IMFC endorsement; (ii) to create an effective institutional mechanism with the mandate and authority to coordinate and champion such work; (iii) to develop comprehensive strategies for individual FCS; (iv) to adapt its lending toolkit to deliver more sustained financial support to FCS; (v) to take practical steps to increase the impact of its capacity development support to FCS; and (vi) to take steps to incentivize high-quality and experienced staff to work on individual FCS and find pragmatic ways of increasing field presence in high risk locations.

Ms. Louise Fox, Mr. Alun H. Thomas, and Cleary Haines
This paper provides the most complete analysis of the structural transformation among low- and low-middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa to date.
International Monetary Fund
The Research Summaries in the March 2014 Research Bulletin focus on efficiency of health expenditure (Francesco Grigoli and Javier Kapsoli) and employment growth in European Union countries (Bas B. Bakker and Li Zeng). The Q&A article looks at “Seven Questions on Financial Interconnectedness” (Co-Pierre Georg and Camelia Minoiu). The Research Bulletin also includes a listing of IMF Working Papers, Staff Discussion Notes, and Recommended Readings from the IMF Bookstore. Information on the IMF Economic Review—the research journal of the IMF—is also provided.
Ms. Louise Fox, Cleary Haines, Ms. Jorge Huerta Munoz, and Mr. Alun H. Thomas
Estimates of the current and future structure of employment in sub-Saharan Africa (2005–20) are obtained based on household survey estimates for 28 countries and an elasticity-type model that relates employment to economic growth and demographic outcomes. Agriculture still employs the majority of the labor force although workers are shifting slowly out of the sector. Sub-Saharan Africa’s projected rapid labor force growth, combined with a low baseline level of private sector wage employment, means that even if sub-Saharan Africa realizes another decade of strong growth, the share of labor force employed in private firms is not expected to rise substantially. Governments need to undertake measures to attract private enterprises that provide wage employment, but they also need to focus on improving productivity in the traditional and informal sectors as these will continue to absorb the majority of the labor force.
International Monetary Fund
This note provides operational guidance to staff on Jobs and Growth issues in surveillance and program work, building on the Board paper “Jobs and Growth: Analytical and Operational Considerations for the Fund” (hereafter, “Board paper”). Jobs and Growth issues can be defined broadly as issues relating to GDP growth, employment, and income distribution. The Board paper noted that work on these issues needs to be consistent with both the Fund’s mandate and its areas of expertise. On a number of structural issues, especially related to labor market reforms and social protection schemes, the Fund would need to effectively collaborate with other institutions with greater relevant expertise.