Selected Issues Papers

IMF Selected Issues Papers are prepared by IMF staff as background documentation for periodic consultations with member countries.

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April 20, 2023

Tax Revenue Growth and Formalization: Republic of Kosovo

Description: Among western Balkan countries, Kosovo had the largest growth in tax revenue in percent of GDP over 2021-22. While part of this strong performance could be explained by increased activity, surging inflation, and buoyance, a sizable part of it is related to increased formalization. This paper analyzes the extent to which tax revenue increases may have grown due to gains in formalization, both of workers and businesses, by applying a simple accounting framework to disentangle the sources of tax collection increases.

April 19, 2023

Surviving Low Interest Rates Central Banks in Kosovo and Other Western Balkan Countries: Republic of Kosovo

Description: Interest income from foreign reserves is one of the main revenue sources for most emerging market central banks. For central banks in the Western Balkan region, the low global interest rates during 2008–2021 negatively affected their revenues, and the impact was more pronounced for central banks in Kosovo, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina because they cannot use seigniorage to finance their operations. This paper explores how these central banks coped with the long period of low-interest rates. The main finding is that the decline in interest income from foreign reserves was partially compensated by higher fees, commissions, and other regulatory revenues.

March 21, 2023

Sweden’s Corporate Vulnerabilities: A Focus on Commercial Real Estate: SWEDEN

Description: Commercial Real Estate (CRE) debt constitute a large portion of corporate debt. Due to the funding structure this creates substantial risks for the financial system and the real economy, in general, due to broader spillover effects. Stress tests, conducted to assess the resilience of CRE sector, show that the median interest rate coverage would drop below one in a severe scenario, resulting in a ¾ of firms with debt-at-risk. CRE sector’s concentration, interconnectedness and insufficient disclosure of liabilities calls for close monitoring of liabilities structure and adjusting banks’ capital levels to better reflect current risks.

March 13, 2023

Housing Supply in the Netherlands: The Road to More Affordable Living: NETHERLANDS

Description: With the supply of residential dwellings in the Netherlands having failed to live up to demand over the last decade, apprehension among the population about the availability of affordable housing has risen. Particularly spatial, regulatory, planning, environmental and supply chain constraints have kept a lid on construction. Recognizing the socio-economic challenges posed by inadequate housing supply, the government has embarked on an ambitious agenda with promising steps to boost the availability of affordable properties. To strengthen the traction of housing policies to reach its intended goals, a larger role for economic incentives and private sector involvement should be evaluated.

March 13, 2023

Assessing Recent Climate Policy Initiatives in the Netherlands: NETHERLANDS

Description: The Netherlands has committed to the EU’s ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and emissions neutrality in 2050 but at the same time is also vulnerable to sea-level rise and flood risks. This paper reviews recent mitigation policy initiatives in the Netherlands, including carbon levies for the industry and power sectors, energy and car tax reforms, and air passenger taxes, and recommends some modifications to these initiatives. The paper also provides assessments of hazards and macroeconomic risks from weather shocks and climate change and assesses the adaption plan against key principles on mainstream climate change into macro-fiscal planning.

March 13, 2023

Dutch Inflation: Developments, Drivers, and the Risk of Wage-Price Spiral: NETHERLANDS

Description: Global inflation surged in 2022, driven by high gas price growth. With Russia being a key supplier of energy products, the start of the war in Ukraine has led to strong inflationary pressures in the euro area (EA), given the region’s significant exposure to the Russian gas. The price shock has been particularly strong in the Netherlands, largely due to the larger share of gas on the energy mix compared to other peers, making the country vulnerable to changing market conditions.

March 6, 2023

Nigeria’s Tax Revenue Mobilization: Lessons from Successful Revenue Reform Episodes: Nigeria

Description: This paper has identified four episodes of large and sustained revenue mobilizations in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and found common lessons from the episodes. Although there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, we can find a tax reform path suitable to Nigeria’s circumstances. Based on these cross-country experiences, this paper recommends: (i) implementing a package reform of tax administration and tax policy measures; (ii) focusing mainly on indirect tax (VAT and excise) reforms and tax incentive rationalizations; (iii) undertaking tax administration measures for improving compliance by strengthening taxpayer segmentation and automation; and (iv) launching social dialogue with key stakeholders as well as high-level political commitment.

March 6, 2023

Nigeria—Fostering Financial Inclusion through Digital Financial Services: Nigeria

Description: Financial inclusion in Nigeria has had undeniable successes, with the onboarding of residents to the banking sector consistently progressing. But the overall exclusion rates continue to exceed official targets, not least due to low financial literacy. Going forward, Nigeria’s financial inclusion strategy should more systematically leverage rapidly developing digital instruments. Uptake of digital financial services, notably mobile money, is still lower than in peer countries, and overcoming this would require improving digital financial literacy, upgrading digital infrastructure, and promoting incubation and sound practices of fintech firms. Nigeria’s CBDC also has an enabling potential if accompanied by a comprehensive package of supportive policies.

March 6, 2023

Food Insecurity in Nigeria: Food Supply Matters: Nigeria

Description: Against the backdrop of high international food and fertilizer prices, this paper discusses food insecurity in Nigeria, investigates its drivers in a cross-country setting, and assesses the role of policies. Using two proxies for food security, we find that high per capita consumption, high yields and low food inflation support food security. Cross-country estimates of yields and production provided by the FAO/OECD reveal that use of inputs is lower in Nigeria than in other countries, and that policies to raise crop yields positively correlate with better food security conditions. The paper also uses detailed domestic commodity price indices to assess linkages with international prices and the role of import bans. Central bank policies for funding agriculture and import bans have not managed to stimulate agricultural output nor moderated the impact of international food prices. Rather, policies should focus on use of inputs that are severely underused in Nigeria as elsewhere in SSA.

March 2, 2023

Wage Indexation and International Competitiveness in Belgium: An Uneasy Coexistence: Belgium

Description: Belgium is one of a small group of euro area countries that maintains indexation of wages to inflation as part of its wage setting framework. With intensified price pressures since late 2020 driving inflation to record levels, the tension between compensating workers for purchasing power losses while maintaining international competitiveness have again been highlighted. To improve the performance and viability of the current setup, several avenues of reform could be envisaged. In particular, the scope for excluding price increases in highly volatile components, like energy and food, from the indexation basis should be explored to less the need to restore competitiveness by prolonged periods of real wage restraint. Moreover, options to widen the flexibility of the indexation regime should be contemplated to alleviate the burden of firms at times of large and multiple shocks, thereby also preserving investment and employment. Finally, productivity trends should also be accounted for to capture deviations of labor costs between Belgium and its key export markets.

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