Gohar Minasyan, Ezgi O. Ozturk, Magali Pinat, Mengxue Wang, and Zeju Zhu
After trailing Euro Area inflation closely in the recent past, inflation in the Western Balkans has accelerated faster since early 2022 on the back of the shocks to global commodity prices, strong recovery from the pandemic, and lingering supply bottlenecks. This paper employs two complementary empirical approaches of an augmented Phillips curve and structural VAR, adapting them to the data availability and country specificities of the Western Balkans, to analyze the inflation dynamics in the region. It finds that international food prices affect not only headline but also core inflation as well as inflation expectations. Further, inflation in the Western Balkans is not just determined by foreign shocks, and domestic factors, aggregate demand shocks in particular, have a significant impact on inflation. These findings imply a possible role for policies to temporarily limit an immediate and complete pass-through of international to domestic food prices while also stressing the importance of an appropriate domestic macroeconomic policy mix to keep inflation expectations anchored and safeguard credibility in the face of high inflation persistence.
Mr. Alain Jousten, Mario Mansour, Irena Jankulov Suljagic, and Charles Vellutini
This paper examines how labor taxation (personal income taxes and social security contributions) in the Western Balkan contributes to labor market outcomes such as high informality and a significant gender gap in participation rates. We find that limited progressivity combined with high tax wedge on low incomes poses a major twin equity-efficiency challenge in the region, resulting in low redistributive capacity and inadequate incentives to enter the job market. Policy implications are discussed with a view to alleviating the excessively high tax wedges on low incomes, while improving progressivity of income taxation.
Public investment is expected to play a significant role in the post-pandemic economic recovery in Montenegro. Due to the importance of the tourism sector, the pandemic has had a deep economic impact. In addition, as government debt already exceeds one hundred percent of GDP, fiscal space to increase public investment is limited. Nevertheless, the completion of the first phase of the Bar-Boljare Highway (BBH), by the end of 2021, should free up public resources within the budget constraint, that could be used for public investments. In this context, a strengthened public investment management (PIM) framework would contribute to maximize its impact on economic growth.