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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Recent economic developments. Notwithstanding a sizeable policy response, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant adverse impact on Serbia’s economic activity, with output in 2020 projected to contract by 3 percent, compared to a 4 percent increase expected prior to the COVID-19 shock. The shock is affecting the economy through lower external demand, weaker foreign direct investment and remittances, disruptions in regional and global supply chains, and domestic supply constraints. The government took strong actions to contain the pandemic at an early stage, but the number of infections accelerated again towards end-June. As a result, some containment measures have been re-introduced.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses the Republic of Serbia’s Third Review Under the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI). Serbia is the second IMF member country to request a PCI and aims to maintain macroeconomic and financial stability, while advancing an ambitious reform agenda to foster rapid growth, job creation and improved living standards. All quantitative targets (QTs) for end-September 2019 were met. Most reform targets (RTs) have been implemented. The IMF Staff recommends completion of the third review under the Policy Coordination Instrument and establishment of end-September 2020 QTs. Fiscal policy is on track so far, however, it will be important to closely monitor 2019 budget implementation to ensure that the deficit stays within the program ceiling. While progress has been made in reforming the tax administration and strengthening public investment management frameworks, delayed reforms of the public wage system and public employment framework need to advance in 2020.
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.
The near-term outlook is broadly positive, with robust growth and low inflation. However, growth potential remains constrained by weak external competitiveness, high informality, low labor force participation, and a large infrastructure gap. In a complex political environment, the structural reform progress has been slow and fiscal risks have increased.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Serbia succeeded in addressing macroeconomic imbalances and restoring confidence and growth under the precautionary SBA which expired in February 2018. Fiscal sustainability has been restored by placing public debt on a firm downward path and the external position has been realigned with fundamentals. Monetary policy has kept inflation under firm control, while supporting economic recovery. The resilience of the financial sector has improved. Progress has also been made on structural and institutional reforms, including in rationalizing the size of public sector employment, addressing fiscal risks from SOEs, and improving the business environment. However, challenges remain for achieving robust, inclusive, and sustainable growth, which Serbia needs for faster income convergence with its EU peers. The authorities requested a 30-month Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) to provide a framework for continued macroeconomic stability and reforms, and maintain close policy dialogue with staff.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses Serbia’s Second Review Under the Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) and Request for Waivers of Applicability of Performance Criteria (PCs). The economy of Serbia is gradually recovering from the 2014 recession, supported by strong export performance coupled with a smaller-than-expected fall in consumption. Inflation has remained below the National Bank of Serbia tolerance band due mainly to low imported inflation. All end-June PCs and indicative targets were met with significant margins. The IMF staff supports the authorities’ request for the completion of the Second Review under the SBA, given the program performance so far and the policy commitments going forward.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes export competitiveness in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia). Export performance in FYR Macedonia has been strong over the last decade, critically contributing to overall growth. Exports have been re-oriented toward new products with higher technological content, allowing for the build-up of revealed comparative advantages in these products. The analysis based on Constant Market Share analysis shows that the overall competitiveness gap of FYR Macedonia with respect to other emerging European countries has narrowed. There appears to be significant room for quality improvement, including for the most successful export products. Although the contribution of exports to GDP growth has been significant, spillover into the domestic tradable sector from the foreign investment led export sector remains limited so far.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2014 Article IV Consultation highlights that the Serbian economy is facing serious challenges. GDP contracted by an estimated 2 percent in 2014 on account of continued falling domestic demand aggravated by floods, and weak economic activity in trading partners. This, together with the low imported inflation, pushed Serbia’s inflation rate below the National Bank of Serbia’s inflation tolerance band, allowing some easing of monetary policy. To support their economic policies over 2015–17, the authorities have requested the IMF’s assistance. The program aims to restore public debt sustainability, strengthen competitiveness and growth, and boost financial sector resilience.
Mr. James Roaf, Mr. Ruben V Atoyan, Mr. Bikas Joshi, and Mr. Krzysztof Krogulski

Abstract

The past 25 years have seen a dramatic transformation in Europe’s former communist countries, resulting in their reintegration with the global economy, and, in most cases, major improvements in living standards. But the task of building full market economies has been difficult and protracted. Liberalization of trade and prices came quickly, but institutional reforms—such as governance reform, competition policy, privatization and enterprise restructuring—often faced opposition from vested interests. The results of the first years of transition were uneven. All countries suffered high inflation and major recessions as prices were freed and old economic linkages broke down. But the scale of output losses and the time taken for growth to return and inflation to be brought under control varied widely. Initial conditions and external factors played a role, but policies were critical too. Countries that undertook more front-loaded and bold reforms were rewarded with faster recovery and income convergence. Others were more vulnerable to the crises that swept the region in the wake of the 1997 Asia crisis.