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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Swift implementation of containment measures, limited spillovers from tourism, and COVID-related fiscal spending financed by buoyant fishing revenues and donor grants have allowed Tuvalu—a fragile Pacific micro-state—avoid a recession in 2020. The economy is expected to expand by 2.5 percent in 2021, supported by fiscal expenditures and resumption of infrastructure projects. But significant challenges remain: Tuvalu is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, its economy is dominated by the public sector, and its revenue base is narrow. Uncertainty around donor commitments complicates fiscal planning.
Ms. Emilia M Jurzyk, Medha Madhu Nair, Nathalie Pouokam, Tahsin Saadi Sedik, and Mrs. Irina Yakadina
The COVID-19 pandemic risks exacerbating inequality in Asia. High frequency labor surveys show that the pandemic is having particularly adverse effects on younger workers, women and people that are more vulnerable. Pandemics have been shown to increase inequalities. As a result, income inequality, which was already high and rising in Asia before the pandemic, is likely to rise further over the medium term, unless policies succeed in breaking this historical pattern. Many Asian governments have implemented significant fiscal policy measures to mitigate the pandemic’s effect on the most vulnerable, with the impact depending on the initial coverage of safety nets, fiscal space, and degree of informality and digitalization. The paper includes model-based analysis which shows that policies targeted to where needs are greatest are effective in mitigating adverse distributional consequences and underpinning overall economic activity and virus containment.
Anh Thi Ngoc Nguyen
In this paper, we review developments in Japanese inbound tourism and investigate the main determinants of its rapid growth prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a panel autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) model with data on 34 tourism source markets from 1996Q1 to 2018Q4, we find that not only tourist income and tourism-related relative prices, also visa policies have had significant impacts on Japan’s inbound tourism demand in the long run. In the short run, natural disasters have had large and prolonged effects on tourism. We then derive policy implications for the post-COVID-19 revival of Japanese inbound tourism.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper discusses St. Lucia’s Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility. IMF financing support provides resources to the countries’ authorities for essential health-related expenditures and income support to ease the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 on the population. In order to address the pandemic, the authorities announced measures to help employees and households, including income support to the unemployed, tax relief, and providing cash transfers to the most vulnerable and affected. The countries’ governments have responded to the pandemic by swiftly implementing containment measures, allocating scarce budgetary resources to critical health care spending, and introducing income support to the most affected sectors and households. Protection of the financial system will help cushion the economic impact of the pandemic. Measures have also been taken by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to facilitate the provision of credit and safeguard financial stability. The IMF will continue to be engaged with Dominica, Grenada, and St. Lucia, and stands ready to provide policy advice and further support as needed.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation explains that St. Lucia’s near-term growth prospects are favorable, supported by large infrastructure investment and robust tourist inflows. However, longer-term growth continues to be impeded by high public debt, lingering vulnerabilities in the financial system, and structural impediments to private investment. Diminishing policy buffers further weaken the country’s resilience to external shocks against the backdrop of aprecarious global outlook. Completion of long pending legislative initiatives, alongside stronger regional and domestic financial oversight, should provide banks with incentives to strengthen their balance sheets and increase the efficiency of financial intermediation. There is also a need to draw on supervisory and regulatory tools to respond to emerging risks from rising overseas investments of the banks and the rapid expansion of lending by credit unions. The authorities are recommended to should step up efforts to address the institutional, financing and capacity gaps in its climate and disaster response strategy. Supply-side reforms are needed to unlock potential growth by improving the business environment, reducing energy costs, enhancing labor productivity, and further diversifying the economy.