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Blog: Chart of the WeekFragile and Conflict-Affected Economies Are Falling Further Behind

January 21, 2022
Even before the pandemic, fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS) already confronted some of the greatest challenges among the world’s economies.

Solomon Islands: Selected Issues

January 21, 2022
Selected Issues

Solomon Islands: 2021 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Solomon Islands

January 21, 2022
Strong and timely containment measures have successfully prevented a domestic COVID-19 outbreak but have also weighed on economic activity and aggravated pre-existing socio-economic tensions. Following a contraction in 2020, growth is projected to recover gradually starting this year and to gain strength as containment measures are relaxed and borders re-opened. Elevated pandemic-related uncertainties as well as longstanding social, economic and governance challenges and vulnerability to natural disasters pose headwinds to inclusive growth. Despite strong external buffers, weaker fiscal position increases vulnerability to shocks, while the decline in logging weighs on fiscal revenues and growth prospects.

Structural Breaks in Carbon Emissions: A Machine Learning Analysis

January 21, 2022
To reach the global net-zero goal, the level of carbon emissions has to fall substantially at speed rarely seen in history, highlighting the need to identify structural breaks in carbon emission patterns and understand forces that could bring about such breaks. In this paper, we identify and analyze structural breaks using machine learning methodologies. We find that downward trend shifts in carbon emissions since 1965 are rare, and most trend shifts are associated with non-climate structural factors (such as a change in the economic structure) rather than with climate policies. While we do not explicitly analyze the optimal mix between climate and non-climate policies, our findings highlight the importance of the nonclimate policies in reducing carbon emissions. On the methodology front, our paper contributes to the climate toolbox by identifying country-specific structural breaks in emissions for top 20 emitters based on a user-friendly machine-learning tool and interpreting the results using a decomposition of carbon emission ( Kaya Identity).

Tax Policy for Inclusive Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean

January 21, 2022
This study provides an overview of tax structures in LAC before the COVID-19 pandemic, compares it to OECD countries, and provides recommendations for growth-friendly and inclusive tax policy reforms. LAC countries collect significantly lower tax revenue relative to OECD countries and have tax structures that rely excessively on corporate-income taxes (CIT) while personal-income taxes (PIT) remain largely underutilized. LAC countries could strengthen their PIT to mobilize revenue and improve progressivity by addressing critical design flaws. Possible adverse growth effects could be mitigated by providing incentives to labor force participation and formalization (e.g., through earned-income tax credits). The ongoing global corporate income tax reforms present a great opportunity to reassess thoroughly the CIT in LAC. Specifically, reforms would need to focus on aligning CIT statutory rates with those of other regions—when assessed to be relatively high—to attract investment and alleviate profit shifting, and on broadening the corporate tax base. Value-added taxes (VAT) could be improved by tackling exemptions and reduced rates. Furthermore, while estimates of additional revenue from levying the VAT on the digital economy appear modest, taxing this sector as others in the economy is critical to avoid further tax base erosion.

The 'Fiscal Presource Curse': Giant Discoveries and Debt Sustainability

January 21, 2022
This paper investigates the dynamic impact of natural resource discoveries on government debt sustainability. We use a ‘natural experiment’ framework in which the timing of discoveries is treated as an exogenous source of within-country variation. We combine data on government debt, fiscal stress and debt distress episodes on a large panel of countries over 1970-2012, with a global repository of giant oil, gas, and mineral discoveries. We find strong and robust evidence of a ‘fiscal presource curse’, i.e., natural resources can jeopardize fiscal sustainability even before ‘the first drop of oil is pumped’. Specifically, we find that giant discoveries, mostly of oil and gas, lead to permanently higher government debt and, eventually, debt distress episodes, specially in countries with weaker political institutions and governance. This evidence suggest that the curse can be mitigated and even prevented by pursuing prudent fiscal policies and borrowing strategies, strengthening fiscal governance, and implementing transparent and robust fiscal frameworks for resource management.

Central African Economic and Monetary Community: Common Policies in Support of Member Countries Reform Programs-Press Release, Staff Report, and Statement by the Executive Director for the Central African Economic and Monetary Community

January 21, 2022
Despite a more favorable external environment, marked by the rebound in global growth, fast-increasing oil prices, and unprecedented Fund financial support, CEMAC is ending 2021 in a fragile external position. Net external reserves fell throughout 2021 to reach their lowest level in decades, and gross reserves are just above three months of imports of goods and services. The launch of a second phase of the regional strategy at the August 2021 CEMAC Heads of States summit saw renewed commitments to accelerate structural, transparency, and governance reforms. The resumption of program engagements with the Fund, combined with high oil prices and significant fiscal adjustments in 2022, should allow for a turnaround, and the build-up in external reserves is expected to resume in 2022. Risks include possible adverse pandemic developments, oil price volatility, possible fiscal slippages, shortfall in external financing, and security issues.

Blog: A New Trust to Help Countries Build Resilience and Sustainability

January 20, 2022
A proposed $50-billion trust fund could help low-income and vulnerable middle-income countries build resilience to balance of payments shocks and ensure a sustainable recovery.

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