Asia and Pacific > Solomon Islands

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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Strong and timely containment measures have successfully prevented a domestic COVID-19 outbreak but have also weighed on economic activity and aggravated pre-existing socio-economic tensions. Following a contraction in 2020, growth is projected to recover gradually starting this year and to gain strength as containment measures are relaxed and borders re-opened. Elevated pandemic-related uncertainties as well as longstanding social, economic and governance challenges and vulnerability to natural disasters pose headwinds to inclusive growth. Despite strong external buffers, weaker fiscal position increases vulnerability to shocks, while the decline in logging weighs on fiscal revenues and growth prospects.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Selected Issues paper on the Solomon Islands quantifies additional spending needs for Solomon Islands to achieve key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets by 2030. The estimate indicates annual additional spending needs of about 6.9 percent of 2030 gross domestic product. Higher investment in energy infrastructure, including on renewable energy, is a key priority to strengthening climate change adaptation and paving the way toward a low-carbon transition. Creating fiscal space for projects with climate-proofing components through budget reallocation, while improving spending efficiency, would raise economic returns by building climate resilience. An integrated financing strategy with a mix of additional concessional financing and front-loaded fiscal measures, including domestic revenue mobilization, is needed and should be properly sequenced to achieve SDGs by 2030. The SDGs and climate commitment should be integrated into the existing public financial management reform agenda to achieve climate-sensitive development goals.
Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Robin Koepke, and Jasper Verschuur
This paper proposes an easy-to-follow approach to track merchandise trade using vessel data and applies it to Pacific island countries. Pacific islands rely heavily on imports and maritime transport for trade. They are also highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters that pose risks to ports and supply chains. Using satellite-based vessel tracking data from the UN Global Platform, we construct daily indicators of port and trade activity for Pacific island countries. The algorithm significantly advances estimation techniques of previous studies, particularly by employing ways to overcome challenges with the estimation of cargo payloads, using detailed information on shipping liner schedules to validate port calls, and applying country-specific information to define port boundaries. The approach can complement and help fill gaps in official data, provide early warning signs of turning points in economic activity, and assist policymakers and international organizations to monitor and provide timely responses to shocks (e.g., COVID-19).
Mr. Richard I Allen, Ms. Majdeline El Rayess, Laura Doherty, and Priya Goel
This paper reviews the Public Financial Management (PFM) reform stategy for 16 Pacific Island Countries (PICs) during the period 2010-2020. The strategy was endorsed by the finance and economic ministers of the region (FEMM) in 2010. The paper analyzes more than 30 PEFA assessments carried out across the region. The region shares the generally slow pace of PFM reform that is also a feature of most developing countries. Some PICs have improved their PFM performance significantly, while others have done less well. PFM reforms have suffered from the small size and low capacity of many PICs, poorly designed PFM roadmaps, variable political suppport for reform, and vulnerability to natural disasters. The paper recommends that in the next five years, there should be a more granular and targeted approch to PEFAs. PICs should focus on basic PFM reforms and (where capacities allow) more transparent public finances, as well as better management of climate change considerations, public infrastructure, gender inequalities, and state-owned enterprises. Perseverance by countries in implementing reforms and leadership by finance ministries are critical. PFTAC’s advice is highly regarded across the region, and it could consider alternative modalities of CD delivery and stronger coordination with other development partners.
Mr. Bernardin Akitoby, Mr. Jiro Honda, and Keyra Primus
Raising revenues has been a formidable challenge for fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS), a fact confirmed once again in the COVID-19 crisis. Nonetheless, achieving sizable gains in tax collection in fragile environments is not impossible. This paper—with empirical analyses and case studies—contributes to policy discussions on tax reform in such challenging environments. Our analyses show that many FCS achieved some recovery of tax revenues, even though they found it challenging to sustain the momentum beyond three years. We also find that changes in the quality of institutions (e.g., government effectiveness and control of corruption) are a key contributory factor to their tax performance (much more so than for non-FCS). Next, we look into the tax increase episodes of four countries (Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, and the Solomon Islands). Although each FCS is unique, their experiences suggest two lessons: (i) tax reforms can be pursued even with initially weak institutions; and (ii) strong political commitment is important to sustain reform efforts and realize long-lasting, sizable gains.