Asia and Pacific > Vanuatu

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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Three years after Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu causing extensive damages, reconstruction efforts are near completion with full recovery in sight. However, capacity constraints and coordination issues have hampered the use of committed funds by donors and development partners, thereby slowing down recovery. Meanwhile, the government’s ambitious development agenda is making good progress with several major infrastructure projects completed or projected to be completed in the next year.
Ricardo Marto, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Mr. Vladimir Klyuev
We present a dynamic small open economy model to explore the macroeconomic impact of natural disasters. In addition to permanent damages to public and private capital, the disaster causes temporary losses of productivity, inefficiencies during the reconstruction process, and damages to the sovereign's creditworthiness. We use the model to study the debt sustainability concerns that arise from the need to rebuild public infrastructure over the medium term and analyze the feasibility of ex ante policies, such as building adaptation infrastructure and fiscal buffers, and contrast these policies with the post-disaster support provided by donors. Investing in resilient infrastructure may prove useful, in particular if it is viewed as complementary to standard infrastructure, because it raises the marginal product of private capital, crowding in private investment, while helping withstand the impact of the natural disaster. In an application to Vanuatu, we find that donors should provide an additional 50% of pre-cyclone GDP in grants to be spent over the following 15 years to ensure public debt remains sustainable following Cyclone Pam. Helping the government build resilience on the other hand, reduces the risk of debt distress and at lower cost for donors.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that Vanuatu’s economy is gradually recovering from the extensive damages caused by Cyclone Pam, which hit the country in March 2015. The cyclone led to a decline in GDP of about 0.8 percent in 2015. The current account deficit widened to 11 percent of GDP in 2015 from an average of 3 percent of GDP in the previous three years. Near-term prospects are favorable, but risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside. Real GDP growth is expected to reach 4 percent in 2016 and 4.5 percent in 2017 driven by the recovery in tourism and agriculture, and further ramping-up of infrastructure projects.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Vanuatu’s Real GDP is expected to decline by 2 percent in 2015 because of the cyclone damage to Vanuatu’s main export sectors—tourism and agriculture—which will be only partially offset by reconstruction activities and infrastructure investment. Risks to the outlook are biased to the downside since reconstruction may be constrained by availability of funding and by implementation capacity. Public sector recovery needs are estimated at about 20 percent of GDP. In 2016, a recovery in tourism and agriculture combined with further ramping-up of infrastructure projects is expected to propel growth to 5 percent.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper focuses on the reasons for the historically weak performance of Vanuatu. Among the key factors, growth has been hindered by substantial barriers to private sector development. Impediments include political uncertainty, high costs of doing business, poor and costly infrastructure, incomplete secured transactions framework, and weak land and property rights. Although these problems are not uncommon in the Pacific island region, Vanuatu’s progress in these structural reforms has been particularly slow, deterring foreign investment and reducing external competitiveness.