By Daniel Prinz, Research Economist and Country Programme Manager at the Institute for Fiscal Studies(IFS) Centre for Tax Analysis in Developing Countries (TaxDev)
Given the massive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public finances globally, it is little surprise that the IMF’s October 2021 forecasts of debt and debt servicing costs in sub-Saharan Africa are substantially higher than was projected in October 2019 (Figure 1). Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa may need to impose fiscal consolidation measures to enhance the sustainability of their public finances even before their economies have fully recovered from the pandemic. The need for higher public revenues is an opportunity for countries to make their tax systems more efficient and equitable, particularly through well-designed green taxes, property taxes and rationalised tax expenditures. Getting these reforms right will be essential to ensure they do not slow the recovery and that they are socially and politically acceptable.
By Rachel Thrasher, Researcher, Boston University Global Development PolicyCentre
By only granting a 13-year extension in a critical time for economic recovery from COVID-19, Members of the World Trade Organization may be creating more severe challenges for Least Developed Countries and the global economy down the road.
Without much fanfare, on June 29, 2021, the member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) quietly agreed to extend the transition period for least-developed countries (LDCs) to implement the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) for another 13 years.
The recently granted extension falls substantially short of what was requested, though it is slightly longer than the previous two nine-year extensions. The news has received relatively little attention in the midst of negotiations for vaccine access and pandemic fears about new vaccine-resistant variants, but to be sure, the failure to acknowledge the need for a longer-term transition period has substantial impacts for LDCs’ development trajectories.
By Ambassador Dr Mohan Kumar, Chairman, RIS, Dean/Professor, Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India, Former Indian Ambassador to France1
It is a truism that the European Union (EU) welcomes, prefers and supports a multipolar world; a strategic world view that is fully shared by its partners like India. More fundamentally, it is in the interest of the EU and its like-minded partners to ensure that the international order is not underpinned by a G2 system of government where the rules are essentially shaped by the US and China. This, however, entails the EU being strong enough to occupy an independent pole in the multipolar system. The EU is not quite there yet, but its friends and partners will certainly wish this to occur, sooner rather than later.
By José Antonio Ocampo, Professor at Columbia University and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Finance Minister of Colombia
The decision of the IMF Board last Friday to approve the allocation of $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) is excellent news for the world economy. This proposal had been on the table since the early phase of the COVID-19 crisis. It was vetoed by the United States under the Trump administration, but endorsed by the Biden administration, who proposed the magnitude of the agreed allocation.
By Dražen Kučan, Sector Lead / Senior Urban and Energy Efficiency Specialist, Green Climate Fund
Guilty as charged: cities and urban populations are among the core drivers of anthropogenic climate change. Cities produce between 71% and 75% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions1. There needs to be a ‘paradigm shift towards low emission and climate-resilient development pathways’. A shift that can happen in developing countries by supporting and investing in high impact climate mitigation as well as resilience and adaptation initiatives.
Factories around the world roared into action again in the second half of 2020, following the COVID-19-related slump that brought large parts of industrial production to a standstill in early 2020. The bounce back, led by Europe, China and other parts of Asia, has been faster than expected, with most of the losses felt in the first half of 2020 recovered by early 2021, although there are big differences between regions and sectors.
Par Alain Tchibozo, Chef Economiste, Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement – BOAD
Endettement accru par les dépenses liées à la Covid-19
Le recours à l’endettement pour financer les plans de riposte et de relance économique explique principalement le fait que le déficit budgétaire des pays de l’Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA) se soit accru. Au plan des finances publiques, même en tenant compte d’un redémarrage de l’activité autour de 5.5% cette année (contre 1,5% en 2020), le déficit budgétaire global représenterait en 2021 près de 5,0% du PIB, après 5,4% en 2020. L’accumulation de déficits publics liés au financement de dépenses de fonctionnement des États apparaît de fait comme le principal facteur d’endettement public. Or la détérioration des finances publiques restreint l’accès futur des États à de nouveaux financements. En 2021, le service de la dette intérieure (paiement des intérêts et amortissement du principal) représentera plus de 50% du service total de la dette dans sept des huit États membres de l’UEMOA. En outre, la part des recettes publiques consacrée au service de la dette représente depuis 2020 plus d’1/3 des recettes totales dans sept États. Aussi, la question de la soutenabilité de la dette sera un enjeu crucial pour les États de la zone ces prochaines années.
By Indermit Gill, Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings and Philip Schellekens, Senior Economic Advisor at International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group)
“Has global health been subverted?” This question was asked exactly a year ago in The Lancet. At the time, the pandemic had already spread across the globe, but mortality remained concentrated in richer economies. Richard Cash and Vikram Patel declared that “for the first time in the post-war history of epidemics, there is a reversal of which countries are most heavily affected by a disease pandemic.”
What a difference a year makes. We know now that this is actually a developing-country pandemic—and has been that for a long time. In this blog, we review the officially published data and contrast them with brand new estimates on excess mortality (kindly provided by the folks at the Economist). We will argue that global health has not been subverted. In fact, compared to rich countries, the developing world appears to be facing very similar—if not higher—mortality rates. Its demographic advantage of a younger population may have been entirely offset by higher infection prevalence and age-specific infection fatality.
By Pablo Ferreri, Public Accountant and former Vice Minister of Economy and Finance of Uruguay
Today, more than a year into the pandemic, we are still witnessing a humanitarian drama on a global scale. Mass vaccination offers a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel; however, that light is much further away for developing countries. While we see developed countries moving closer to herd immunity, we also see huge lags in the rest of the world. Moreover, beyond the health drama, the ensuing social and economic crisis will persist for a long time to come. We must focus on “the morning after”, as the health crisis recedes and as vaccination progresses. The morning after the pandemic ends, we will be left with an impoverished and, above all, much more unequal global economy.