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.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Statistics Department (STA) conducted a technical assistance (TA) mission to the Central Bank of Montenegro (CBM) for the compilation of external sector statistics (ESS) during April 28–May 13, 2021. The mission was funded by Eurostat to meet the European Union (EU)’s acquis1 from the ESS perspective. The mission focused on the compilation of quarterly international investment position (IIP),2 and assisted the CBM in preparing the Reserves Data Template (RDT) as well as in recording of financial intermediary services indirectly measured (FISIM) in balance of payments statistics.
COVID-19 hit the economy hard, but a strong recovery is underway. Public debt, already elevated before the pandemic, has increased further. The government has embarked on a reform program ‘Europe Now’, which aims to arrest outward migration through a sharp minimum wage increase, labor tax wedge reduction, and the introduction of a progressive tax code. The financial sector appears to have withstood the COVID-19 shock well.
Kosovo has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite policy support, economic activity is estimated to have fallen 6 percent in 2020 on account of the combined effect of strict domestic containment measures and international travel restrictions. The fiscal deficit increased to 7.7 percent of GDP, given the large fall in tax revenues and the implementation of mitigation and recovery measures of 4.2 percent of GDP. The current account deficit is estimated to have increased to 7.5 percent of GDP mainly due to a large decline in diaspora-related inflows, most notably in tourism. Gross international reserves declined but remain adequate in part due to the purchase under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) in April 2020 and the use of other external financing. Banks have weathered the recession well to date, and the high pre-COVID19 liquidity levels and ample capital buffers bode well for the system’s stability.