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International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept. and International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & Review Department
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is increasingly involved in offering policy advice on public pension issues to member countries. Public pension spending is important from both fiscal and welfare perspectives. Pension policy and its reforms can have significant fiscal and distribution implications, can influence labor supply and labor demand decisions, and may impact consumption and savings behavior. This technical note provides guidance on assessing public pension systems’ macrocriticality, i.e., sustainability, adequacy, and efficiency; it also discusses the issues and policy trade-offs to be considered when designing responses aiming to address these dimensions of the pension system. The paper emphasizes the importance of taking a long-term, comprehensive perspective when evaluating public pension spending and providing policy advice. Where feasible, reforms should be gradual and transparent to allow individuals ample time to adjust their work and savings decisions and to facilitate consumption smoothing over their lifecycle to avoid poverty in old age. It is also important to ensure that pension systems’ design and reforms do not lead to undesirable impacts in other policy areas including general tax compliance, health insurance coverage, labor force participation among older workers, or labor market informality. The paper emphasizes the importance country-specific social and economic objectives and constraints, as well as political economy realities – factors that can determine whether a pension reform is a success or failure.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
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.
Daniel Gurara, Mr. Giovanni Melina, and Luis-Felipe Zanna
Over the past seven years, the DIG and DIGNAR models have complemented the IMF and World Bank debt sustainability framework (DSF) analysis, over 65 country applications. They have provided useful insights in the context of program and surveillance work, based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of the macroeconomic effects of public investment scaling-ups. This paper takes stock of the model applications and extensions, and extract five common policy lessons from the universe of country cases. First, improving public investment efficiency and/or raising the rate of return of public projects raises growth and lowers the risks associated with debt sustainability. Second, prudent and gradual investment scaling-ups are preferable to aggressive front-loaded ones, in terms of private sector crowding-out effects, absorptive capacity constraints, and debt sustainability risks. Third, domestic revenue mobilization helps create fiscal space for investment scaling-ups, by effectively containing public debt surges and their later-on repayments. Fourth, aid smoothens fiscal adjustments associated with public investment increases and may lower the risks of unsustainable debt. Fifth, external savings mitigate Dutch disease macroeconomic effects and serve as fiscal buffers. The paper also discusses how these models were used to estimate the quantitative macro economic effects associated with these lessons.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Recent economic developments. The program is broadly on track and the economy is growing strongly, supported by private consumption, investment, and exports. Fiscal performance remains sound, modernization of the tax administration has accelerated, and public debt has fallen sharply. Inflation remains below the mid-point of the NBS inflation band, while the NBS has kept rates on hold since April. Both credit and private sector wage growth are strengthening. Program performance. Quantitative targets (QTs) for end-September 2018 were met, apart from a minor deviation on the QT for domestic arrears. Most reform targets (RTs) have been implemented, albeit some with delays. Staff recommends completion of the first review under the Policy Coordination Instrument and modification of QTs for end-March and an establishment of end-September 2019 QTs.
Mr. Ruben V Atoyan, Ms. Dora Benedek, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Giuseppe Cipollone, Mr. Jacques A Miniane, Ms. Nhu Nguyen, Mr. Martin Petri, Mr. Jens Reinke, and Mr. James Roaf
An assessment of public infrastructure development in the Western Balkans. The paper quantifies the large gaps across various sectors/dimensions, evaluates current infrastructure plans, and discusses funding options available to countries in the region. The paper also identifies important bottlenecks for increased infrastructure investment. Finally, the paper quantifies potential growth benefits from addressing infrastructure gaps, concluding that boosting the quantity and quality of infrastructure is vital for raising economic growth and accelerating income convergence with the EU. The paper concludes with country-specific policy recommendations.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper on Kosovo discusses various challenges and opportunities in the public infrastructure domain. Given the very low initial stocks, largely due to the sharp depletion of capital stock during the conflicts in the 1990s, higher investment rates are needed. The resources available from international development partners, including the European Union (EU), the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, are a unique opportunity to leverage and accelerate the implementation of priority projects. Strengthening Kosovo’s investment framework is key to achieving this objective. Kosovo faces significant public infrastructure gaps, which constrain private sector development. Scaling-up public investment will raise gross domestic product growth potential and accelerate income convergence toward the EU average level. The priority project list has helped the authorities to prioritize plans and facilitate the discussions and negotiations with donors and International Financial Institutions (IFI). However, implementation so far has been modest, despite the new investment clause of the fiscal rule exempting IFI-financed projects from the deficit ceiling.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper quantifies the short- and medium-term growth effects of major ongoing highway and railway projects in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. A standard neoclassical growth model is augmented with public capital to capture both demand and supply-side effects of public infrastructure investments. The calibrated model suggests that the four ongoing highway and railway investments of 2–3 percent of GDP annually for 2014–18 are likely to raise the growth rate of real GDP by 0.5 percentage points on average for each year in 2014–20. Enhancing public investment efficiency can increase growth effects up to 0.8 percentage points.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses Serbia’s Fourth and Fifth Reviews Under the Stand-By Arrangement and Rephasing of the Arrangement. The program is delivering good results, particularly in achieving key macroeconomic objectives. Significant fiscal tightening and efforts to address structural weaknesses have helped boost confidence and restore growth. This has been supported by a healthy credit recovery on the back of substantial monetary policy easing as inflation has been persistently low. Notwithstanding this progress, public debt remains elevated and delays continue in some structural reforms, in part owing to recent elections. Further structural reforms are required to improve the business climate and support Serbia’s medium-term growth.