GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — The International Monetary (IMF) has issued a concluding statement describing the preliminary findings of employees on the end of an official visit to Guatemala.
Underpinned by a strong macroeconomic framework, fundamentals remain robust and supportive fiscal and monetary policies positively assist progress prospects. Over the medium time period, greater and extra inclusive progress is significant to carry Guatemalans’ dwelling standards meaningfully. Constructing consensus on long-awaited enterprise local weather and public sector reforms would promote personal sector progress and the attainment of the Sustainable Improvement Objectives (SDGs).
An enhancing outlook aided by a supportive policy combine
1. Near-term progress is poised for a rebound amidst well-anchored inflation expectations. Progress has revived since mid-2018 after three years of weaker performance. Employees projection is for 3.4 % in 2019 propelled by a constructive fiscal impulse, exports restoration after final yr’s droop due to weaker phrases of commerce however funding momentum. Progress would peak at three.7 in 2021, earlier than converging to its potential price of three.5 % by 2024, while inflation is projected to stay inside the four±1 % goal. The present account stability is predicted deteriorate to -1.5 % of GDP by 2024, nonetheless overseas reserves would stay within snug ranges.
2. Dangers to the outlook are tilted to the draw back. External dangers originate from a progress slowdown in the US and different regional trading partners. The primary home danger stems from the lagged implementation of enterprise local weather reforms and drifting anti-corruption efforts, which might dampen funding prospects. On the upside, the timely creation of a government-sponsored company, alongside the deepening of present commerce agreements, would invigorate exports prospects.
3. Fiscal and financial policy help to demand is acceptable and will prolong into the near-term. According to the IMF’s advice, the macroeconomic coverage mix has been geared in the direction of supporting demand.
The fiscal deficit is predicted to widen to 2.2 % of GDP by year-end however to 2.4 % next yr, enabling a cumulative fiscal impulse of 1 % of GDP over 2018−20. Spending momentum from easier awarding of presidency tasks but the ministry of finance’s close coordination with the overall comptroller office and with executing businesses should prolong into the near-term. Going forward, as the financial system operates near its potential, the deficit is about to stabilize round its historical mark of about 2 %.
Accommodative financial circumstances allowed for a turnaround in credit score since mid-2018 in tandem with domestic demand. The accommodative stance ought to proceed as the output hole closes amid well-anchored inflation expectations. Gradual normalization should comply with go well with as the financial system grows above potential (2021 by employees projections). Banguat’s robust financial coverage administration has been paramount to anchoring inflation expectations and, going forward, further enhancements to the inflation concentrating on might be thought-about, including higher FX flexibility (as observed in 2018), secondary market improvement (by way of the adoption of the securities market regulation and the dematerialization of securities) but refinements to the forward-looking communication strategy, constructing on a proven report of anchoring inflation expectations. Lifting potential progress and dwelling standards by means of public sector and business setting reforms.
With the demographic dividend materializing over the subsequent 20 years, lifting potential progress is a precedence to obtain economic success and social cohesion. This calls for wide-ranging public sector and enterprise local weather reforms.
4. Properly-targeted and productive infrastructure and social spending would promote personal sector progress and key SDGs. The authorities ought to prioritize those investments producing the strongest externalities (resembling water and sanitation providers, preventive and primary healthcare, pre-primary education schemes and academics’ training) and with the very best potential for value recovery and personal sector participation (eg, transportation infrastructure). Congress approval of multi-year loans for schooling, health, meals safety, justice, infrastructure however water and sanitation, will allow the incorporation of these priorities right into a medium-term price range framework. As spending is scaled-up, more focus ought to be positioned on performance-based budgeting by way of strengthened monitoring and evaluation, as steered by the secretary of planning.
5. The size of the infrastructure and social gaps is giant and calls for extra financing, beginning with higher spending efficiency and revenue mobilization. In so doing, the authorities ought to purpose for creating further fiscal area while preserving the debt-to-GDP ratio broadly secure. This is able to preserve a secure macroeconomic framework conducive to personal sector progress.
Public financing administration
The authorities are producing financial savings by way of a sound public debt technique, together with 20-year and small-denomination, bond issuances. To cushion towards sudden shocks, the authorities have put in place a danger administration financial technique, together with an emergency fund, contingent credit score strains, and pure disaster insurance coverage.
Public sector reforms
Needed reforms to reap efficiency good points embrace (i) the legal guidelines on civil service and salaries in the public administration to facilitate public service professionalization (by way of meritocracy-based recruitment, incentives and training); (ii) the procurement regulation to bolster cost-effectiveness and stability agility and transparency; (iii) lowered revenue-earmarking and obligatory spending floors but couching spending goals inside a medium-term framework; and (iv) rationalizing tax incentives and exemptions. Employees acknowledges the authorities’ drive for enhancing fiscal transparency.
A stronger SAT to reverse the erosion in tax revenues. Regardless of strengthened inner audits and the successful implementation of the integral load management plan in Puerto Quetzal, tax income as a % of GDP has declined by round half proportion points over 2016−18. Reversing the decline in tax collection hinges on strengthening the massive taxpayer office administration, enhancing using tax info to handle noncompliance, redirecting assets in the direction of risk-based auditing but rethink the lifting of financial institution secrecy for tax audit purposes. Relating to the latter, the present suspension, in addition to denting tax collections, might undermine Guatemala’s compliance with respect to international transparency treaties.
6. The authorities’ agenda to promote a thriving business setting is commendable and ought to be expedited. The proposed agenda endeavours to enhance the rule of regulation and the regulatory framework, which might dynamize investment and exports—both on a gentle decline over time. The adoption of an insolvency regulation and other initiatives to restore legal certainty for large-scale funding tasks (e.g., swift incorporation of ILO Conference 169 into Guatemala’s domestic authorized system) are important to strengthen contract enforcement and enhance buyers’ confidence. Spearheading the PPP framework and passing the street infrastructure bill would catalyse personal investments and improve domestic market connectivity and competitiveness. Efforts aimed toward enhancing the issuance of development licenses should continue so as to ease the shortage in residential housing and promote the development of middle-sized cities. A government-sponsored exports and investment promotion company would foster exports and competitiveness, as would expedited customs procedures with El Salvador and Mexico constructing on the profitable expertise with Honduras.
7. The government should reaffirm its commitment to the anti-corruption agenda. Withdrawal from CICIG puts a premium on sustaining prior authorized and institutional progress and continuing with outstanding instances. Strengthening the lawyer basic’s workplace and judicial capacities ought to be focal points. Subsequently, efforts should go to fortify the investigative and prosecutorial competences and to scale back the judicial backlog. The authorities’ plans to prolong the coverage of the public prosecutor’s workplace and to consolidate its financial independence are welcome. Moreover, a pre-emptive strategy is of the essence to scale back publicity to corruption and requires reforms, partly ongoing, to strengthen the procurement and the AML/CFT framework, scale back pink tape, improve contract enforcement however improve the transparency of tax exemptions.
Modernizing the financial system and enhancing financial inclusion
8. The monetary system is healthy but there’s room for further modernization. Banks proceed to be well-capitalized and liquid, whereas nonperforming loans remain low. The authorities should persevere of their efforts to align the financial sector with Basel III requirements. Initiatives meriting help embrace the invoice on banks and monetary teams, the draft AML/CFT bill, the securities market regulation however the digital money regulation.
9. The authorities are inspired to flesh out a national technique for monetary inclusion. Final yr’s reform of the code of commerce and movable ensures however the current approval of the factoring regulation are meant to facilitate SMEs’ entry to credit score. Additional efforts are wanted to operationalize the 2016 microfinance regulation however to set in motion simplified financial institution accounts and credit score bureaus. The authorities have arrange an interinstitutional fee to implement a national technique for monetary inclusion. To propel technological innovation, which incorporates FinTech solutions, an analytical centre is about up to contemplate a system of regulatory responses (sandbox) in a approach that balances technological innovation with financial stability.
Building consensus in the direction of a improvement technique
10. Unleashing larger and extra inclusive potential progress calls for a nationwide dialogue. Constructing on success in macroeconomic administration, Guatemala is properly poised to embrace wide-ranging enterprise local weather reforms and an SDG agenda. The time is ripe for forging a national consensus in the direction of raising progress prospects and dwelling requirements.