The war in Ukraine is disrupting the post-pandemic recovery and exacerbating difficult policy trade-offs. This adds to a series of challenges facing the country, including the pandemic, the Ecowas sanctions against Mali, regional instability, and rising social demands. As a result, growth was revised down to 5 percent and inflation up to 5.5 percent in 2022. Medium-term prospects remain favorable with oil and gas production expected to start in 2023.
Greece has weathered the pandemic well, with a considerably stronger-than-expected recovery. Reforms progressed in several areas, including digitalization, privatization, improving the fiscal policy mix, and bank balance sheet repair. Greece finalized its early repayment to the IMF on April 4 and is expected to graduate from the quarterly European Institutions’ Enhanced Surveillance framework on schedule by August 2022. Despite the adverse impact of the war in Ukraine, growth is projected to remain robust at 3.5 percent this year. High energy prices are expected to push up average inflation to 6.1 percent. Public debt is on a downward trajectory and rollover risks appear manageable. The external position last year was moderately weaker than that consistent with fundamentals and desirable policies.
Lesotho has been simultaneously hit by the pandemic, declining transfers from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and the impact of the war in Ukraine. The pandemic exacerbated the impact of sluggish regional performance, climate shocks, and longstanding structural issues such as regulation, governance, political stability, financial inclusion, and diversification. Public expenditure has continued to increase, such that the decline in external transfers precipitated significant financing pressures and growing domestic arrears. With limited inflows to the private sector, the resulting public sector-driven external imbalances have continued to put pressure on international reserves needed to maintain the exchange rate peg.
The economy rebounded strongly from the pandemic recession last year while prudent macroeconomic management maintained robust buffers. But the war in Ukraine and the international sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus have resulted in significant spillovers to Moldova, with implications yet to fully play out. At the outbreak of hostilities, FX market pressures triggered significant foreign currency interventions and bank deposit withdrawals, while dollarization has intensified. Moldova has received the highest per capita inflow of Ukrainian refugees (17 percent of the total population), of which about 100,000 refugees (4 percent of the total population) remain in Moldova. Driven by rising food and energy prices, inflation accelerated further above the target band.
While geopolitical tensions with Russia had already curtailed Ukraine’s access to markets, the escalation to an invasion of Ukraine by Russia and full-blown war on February 24 has dramatically altered Ukraine’s outlook. A deep recession and large reconstruction costs are to be expected, on the backdrop of a humanitarian crisis. With the war ongoing, the situation remains extremely fluid, and any forecast is at this stage subject to massive uncertainty. The authorities are rightly focusing on ensuring the continuity of critical government operations, preserving financial stability and protecting priority spending.
Ms. Anja Baum, Mr. Paulo A Medas, Alberto Soler, and Mouhamadou Sy
Ensuring that state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are efficient and managed prudently is important for economic and social reasons. It is also crucial to contain fiscal risks and reduce the burden on taxpayers from recurrent and large bailouts. Governments need to develop stronger capacity to monitor and mitigate the risks from SOEs. We present a risk tool to benchmark the performance of SOEs relative to their peers and assess their vulnerabilities, including through stress tests. A strategy to mitigate risks requires the right incentives for managers to perform and for government agencies to conduct effective oversight. Incorporating SOEs in overall fiscal targets would promote greater fiscal discipline and transparency.