This paper presents a Management Implementation Plan (MIP) with actions to take forward the Board-endorsed recommendations from the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO)’s report on IMF Engagement with Small Developing States (SDS). The actions in the MIP are broad in scope, touching on all modalities of the Fund’s engagement with SDS, and seek to be comprehensive, self-reinforcing, cost-effective, and designed to be adopted as a package. The MIP aims to support a targeted and effective recalibration of engagement with SDS; enhance IMF’s surveillance and capacity development in SDS members; strengthen the Fund’s lending engagement with SDS, in line with the applicable policy frameworks; and secure an effective, well-tailored and more continuous staff presence in SDS.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Following a successful COVID-19 containment strategy, the border reopened in July 2022, and tourism is returning to Vanuatu. Economic activity is expected to be strong in the near term, with real GDP growing around 3.4 percent in 2023, as tourism and construction activities resume. High imported prices are likely to stoke inflation and push the current account into deficit, while fiscal policy will turn more expansionary. The Economic Citizenship Program (ECP) is facing significant challenges, with important implications for revenue and governance, while Air Vanuatu, the national airline, is facing serious operational and financial difficulties. Key structural vulnerabilities relating to climate change, limited infrastructure development capacity, and weak governance, persist.
Mr. Tamim Bayoumi, Mr. Saad N Quayyum, and Sibabrata Das
The paper analyzes the impact of natural disasters on per-capita GDP growth. Using a quantile regressions and growth-at-risk approach, the paper examines the impact of disasters and policy choices on the distribution of growth rather than simply its average. We find that countries that have in place disaster preparedness mechanisms and lower public debt have lower probability of witnessing a significant drop in growth as a consequence of a natural disaster, but our innovative methodology in this paper finds that the two policies are complements since their effectiveness vary across different disaster scenarios. While both are helpful for small to mid-size disasters, lower debt—and hence more fiscal space—is more beneficial in the face of very large disasters. A balanced strategy would thus involve both policies.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Border closures and other pandemic containment measures have kept Vanuatu free from COVID-19. However, they have dealt a heavy blow to economic activity as tourism has come to a virtual halt. On top of the pandemic, Tropical Cyclone Harold and a volcanic eruption in Tanna Island caused extensive economic damage in 2020. In the context of a continued loss of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs) in the Pacific, Vanuatu also lost a key CBR at end-June 2021. Air Vanuatu, one of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs), is in the process of being restructured.
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).
Vybhavi Balasundharam, Ms. Leni Hunter, Iulai Lavea, and Mr. Paul G Seeds
Pacific island countries (PICs) rely on national airlines for connectivity, trade, and tourism. These airlines are being struck hard by COVID-19. Losses will weigh on public sector balance sheets and pose risks to economic recovery. With a backdrop of tight fiscal space and increasing government debt, losses in airlines are adding to fiscal risks in some PICs. This paper discusses tools to evaluate and manage the fiscal risks from national airlines in the Pacific. We present a snapshot of the current state of Public Financial Management (PFM) practices in PICs and detail the best practices. This exercise would illustrate the areas in which PICs have scope to improve their risk management with regard to national airlines. We then discuss the use of diagnostic tools and capacity development to enhance monitoring and risk management. Greater transparency and accountability in the airlines, combined with rigorous oversight, would be the first step towards improved financial management of national airlines.
The Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO) requested a mission by the IMF’s Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC) for conducting a feasibility study on the implementation of a quarterly national accounts (QNA) in Vanuatu. This study outlines the staff, organizational and data requirements for Vanuatu to implement a quarterly national accounts program.