International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & Review Department
The coverage of risks has become more systematic since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC): staff reports now regularly identify major risks and provide an assessment of their likelihood and economic impact, summarized in Risk Assessment Matrices (RAM). But still limited attention is paid to the range of possible outcomes. Also, risk identification is useful only so much as to inform policy design to preemptively respond to relevant risks and/or better prepare for them. In this regard, policy recommendations in surveillance could be richer in considering various risk management approaches. To this end, progress is needed on two dimensions: • Increasing emphasis on the range of potential outcomes to improve policy design. • Encouraging more proactive policy advice on how to manage risks. Efforts should continue to leverage internal and external resources to support risk analysis and advice in surveillance.
The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a human toll and has unleashed a series of shocks on the Fund’s entire membership, creating severe disruption in the global economic and financial system. As a result, many emerging market and developing country (EMDC) members face urgent and unprecedented financing needs, creating significant immediate demand for Fund resources. In order to respond to members’ large and urgent financing needs, the paper proposes to enhance the Fund’s emergency financing toolkit, through a temporary increase in access limits for both the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), available to all members, and the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), available to Poverty Reduction Growth Trust-eligible members only. It is proposed to increase these access limits for a proposed period of six months, which may be extended by the Executive Board. A companion Board paper sets out proposals to accelerate Board consideration of member requests for financing under the RCF and RFI, completion of reviews and requests for changes in access in existing arrangements, and requests for grant assistance under the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust.
The Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) and Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) are valuable components of the disaster risk financing tool kit for Fund members, especially developing countries. They help to meet urgent balance of payments needs, and are designed to play a catalytic role in mobilizing other external financing. This paper develops proposals for a higher annual access limit under the RCF and RFI, building on a November 2016 staff paper on small states’ resilience to natural disasters and climate change (IMF, 2016c). Directors generally supported the proposal in that paper to establish higher annual access limits of 60 percent of quota under the RCF and RFI for countries experiencing severe natural disaster-related damages. The focus of this paper is to specify the threshold of damage from a natural disaster that would allow members experiencing urgent balance of payments needs arising from such disasters to access emergency financing at the higher annual limit. In the November 2016 paper, staff proposed, among other things, the possibility of establishing a higher access limit under the RCF and RFI where the amount of damage reached the threshold of 30 percent of GDP. Most Directors regarded the proposed threshold of disaster damage as overly restrictive, and suggested lowering the threshold to 20 percent of GDP or lower, provided that this did not jeopardize the self-sustainability of the PRGT. For a range of future disaster outcomes, a damage threshold of 20 percent of GDP could increase projected annual average PRGT loan demand in the 1-5 percent range over the next decade, which should not pose significant risks to the robustness of PRGT self-sustainability. Cautious stewardship of PRGT resources argues against a lower disaster damage threshold, pending further experience with disaster trends and associated PRGT loan demand. This paper does not propose changes to the current cumulative access limits for the RCF and RFI. The cumulative access limits play an important role in the Fund’s financing architecture, constraining the extent to which countries can access Fund resources without implementing a Fund-supported program with upper credit tranche (UCT) conditionality and associated policies in circumstances where such a program would be more appropriate. The Board will have the opportunity to review the cumulative access limits in the context