Western Hemisphere

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Mr. Eric Le Borgne and Ms. Katherine Baer

Abstract

Tax amnesties remain as popular as ever as a tool for raising revenue and increasing tax compliance. International experience, however, shows that the costs of tax amnesty programs often exceed the programs’ benefits. This paper weighs the advantages and disadvantages of tax amnesties, drawing on results from the theoretical literature, econometric evidence, and selected country and U.S. state case studies. The authors conclude that “successful” tax amnesties are the exception rather than the norm. Improvements in tax administration are the essential ingredient in addressing the main problems that tax amnesties seek to address. Indeed, the most successful amnesty programs rely on improving the tax administration’s enforcement capacity. ?Given the potential drawbacks of tax amnesties, a few alternative measures are discussed.

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Kevin J Carey, and Mr. Ulrich Jacoby

Abstract

What is the impact on trade in sub-Saharan Africa of the recent rapid growth in China and other Asian countries, and the associated commodity price boom? This paper looks at how trading patterns (both destinations and composition) are changing in sub-Saharan Africa. Has the region managed to diversify the products it sells from commodities to manufactured goods? Has it expanded the range of countries to which it exports? And what about the import side? The time is ripe for sub-Saharan African countries to climb up the value chain of their commodity-based exports and/or achieve an export surge based on labor-intensive manufacturing.

Mr. Peter S. Heller and Mr. William C. Hsiao

Abstract

This primer explains why macroeconomists need to be concerned with issues of health policy and elaborates the essential information that a macroeconomist should know in providing inputs to discussions on health sector policy. The primer illustrates how these issues and the range of appropriate policy options may differ depending on the state of development of an economy and the particular approach taken by a country in structuring its health system. The primer also highlights the appropriate roles for the state and market in health care financing and provision, taking account of the various sources of market failure in the health sector.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

Iran has received much attention from a geopolitical and regional standpoint, but its economic challenges have not attracted a similar degree of interest. With a population of 69 million, considerable hydrocarbon resources, a dynamic and entrepreneurial middle class, and a relatively well-educated labor force, Iran's economic potential is considerable. This volume takes stock of critical developments in the Iranian economy in recent years. The study reviews the key issues and policy responses, highlights the nature of the challenges ahead, and draws implications for the next phase of reforms. The authors conclude that major challenges remain, although significant advances have been made in recent years in opening up the economy to international trade and foreign direct investment, encouraging the private sector, removing exchange restrictions, reforming the tax system, and enhancing macroeconomic management.

Mr. M. Cangiano, Mr. Barry Anderson, Mr. Max Alier, Murray Petrie, and Mr. Richard Hemming

Abstract

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) refer to arrangements under which the private sector supplies infrastructure assets and infrastructure-based services that traditionally have been provided by the government. PPPs are used for a wide range of economic and social infrastructure projects, but they are used mainly to build and operate roads, bridges and tunnels, light rail networks, airports and air traffic control systems, prisons, water and sanitation plants, hospitals, schools, and public buildings. PPPs offer benefits similar to those offered by privatization, which is the sale of government-owned enterprises or assets. By the late 1990s, when privatization was losing much of its earlier momentum, PPPs began to be widely seen as a means of obtaining private sector capital and management expertise for infrastructure investment. After a modest start, a wave of PPPs is now beginning to sweep the world. This Special Issue paper provides an overview of some of the issues raised by PPPs, with a particular focus on their fiscal consequences. It also looks at government guarantees, which are used fairly widely to shield the private sector from risk and are a common feature of PPPs. And it examines the consequences of PPPs and guarantees for debt sustainability. The paper concludes with a list of measures that can maximize the benefits and minimize the fiscal risks associated with the use of PPPs. Various appendices augment the discussion by examining country experiences with PPPs, summarizing the statistical reporting framework used to discuss fiscal accounting and reporting, explaining accounting for risk transfer, examining how guarantees are modeled and estimated in Chile, and summarizing international accounting and reporting standards for contingent liabilities.

Mr. Sumio Ishikawa, Ms. Sibel Beadle, Mr. Damien Eastman, Ms. Srobona Mitra, Mr. Alejandro Lopez Mejia, Ms. Wafa F Abdelati, Mr. Koji Nakamura, Mr. Il Houng Lee, Ms. Sònia Muñoz, Mr. Robert P. Hagemann, Mr. David T. Coe, and Ms. Nadia Rendak

Abstract

Cambodia's reconstruction and reform efforts have spanned almost 25 years following the Khmer Rouge period, which ended in 1979. Economic reforms began in earnest in the early 1990s, but reform efforts were beset by ongoing internal tensions and civil unrest. Although external factors, including sizable aid inflows and a trade agreement with the United States, helped boost growth in the past decade, the country remains one of the poorest in the region. The current coalition government has announced a strategy aimed at revitalizing economic reforms, and in 2004 Cambodia formally joined the World Trade Organization. But elimination of the garment quota system under the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing is exposing an underlying deterioration in competitiveness, which, coupled with slow growth in the agriculture sector and other structural obstacles to private sector growth, has resulted in a medium-term outlook that remains uncertain.

Mr. Milan M Cuc, Mr. Erik J. Lundback, and Mr. Edgardo Ruggiero

Abstract

Labor migration and remittances, which have increasingly become a part of the global landscape, have profound economic and social consequences. Moldova, a small low-income country where an estimated one-third of the economically active population has been working abroad, is an interesting illustration of this trend. Drawing on household survey data, this Special Issues paper explains why Moldovan workers go abroad and how their remittances are used. With this background, it provides insights into policy challenges of coping with, and maximizing benefits from, international labor mobility and the large inflows of remittances.

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta and Yongzheng Yang

Abstract

In recent years, African policymakers have increasingly resorted to regional trade arrangements (RTAs) as a substitute for broad-based trade liberalization. This trend has long-term implications for the effectiveness of trade policy as a tool for poverty reduction and growth. This paper examines the record of RTAs in promoting trade and investment. It also explores policy measures that may help improve RTAs' performance.

Mr. Jeffrey R. Franks, Miss Randa Sab, Ms. Valerie A Mercer-Blackman, and Roberto Benelli

Abstract

Following some historical background, this paper describes how corruption is manifested in Paraguay. The paper distinguishes between factors that explain the growth performance of Paraguay since 1960 (where corruption does not directly enter as a significant factor) and factors that explain the relative level of income of Paraguay in the past 40 or 50 years compared with other countries. It then illustrates how Paraguay's weak institutions may have led to long-term growth below its potential. Finally, the authors briefly consider how Paraguay could improve its institutions. To the extent that prudent policies and the willingness to consider the adoption of international best practices will exert pressure for change in Paraguay, a gradual improvement of institutional quality will ensue, which is necessary for sustained long-run growth.

Mr. James Y. Yao, Mr. Gamal Z El-Masry, Padamja Khandelwal, and Mr. Emilio Sacerdoti

Abstract

Mauritius has achieved remarkable success since its independence in 1968. It has one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, the economy has diversified from complete dependence on the sugar crop, into textiles, then tourism, and recently information and communication services. This paper examines the factors that have contributed to this impressive growth, including macroeconomic stability, a solid institutional framework, political stability, an efficient administration, a favorable regulatory framework, and a well-developed financial system, and outlines the challenges that remain to ensure continued sustainable growth in Mauritius.