GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — The International Monetary (IMF) has issued a concluding assertion describing the preliminary findings of employees on the finish of an official visit to Guatemala.
Underpinned by a strong macroeconomic framework, fundamentals remain robust and supportive fiscal and monetary insurance policies positively help progress prospects. Over the medium time period, larger and more inclusive progress is significant to raise Guatemalans’ dwelling standards meaningfully. Building 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 mix
1. Close to-term progress is poised for a rebound amidst well-anchored inflation expectations. Progress has revived since mid-2018 after three years of weaker efficiency. Employees projection is for 3.4 % in 2019 propelled by a constructive fiscal impulse, exports recovery after last yr’s stoop because of weaker phrases of commerce but funding momentum. Progress would peak at 3.7 in 2021, earlier than converging to its potential price of three.5 % by 2024, whereas inflation is projected to remain inside the four±1 % target. 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 risks originate from a progress slowdown within the US and other regional trading companions. The primary home danger stems from the lagged implementation of enterprise local weather reforms and drifting anti-corruption efforts, which might dampen investment prospects. On the upside, the well timed creation of a government-sponsored company, alongside the deepening of present trade agreements, would invigorate exports prospects.
three. Fiscal and financial policy help to demand is acceptable and will prolong into the near-term. In keeping with 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 but to 2.four % 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 shut coordination with the overall comptroller workplace and with executing businesses ought to prolong into the near-term. Going forward, as the financial system operates close to its potential, the deficit is about to stabilize around its historic mark of about 2 %.
Accommodative monetary 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 gap closes amid well-anchored inflation expectations. Gradual normalization ought to comply with go well with as the financial system grows above potential (2021 by employees projections). Banguat’s robust monetary coverage administration has been paramount to anchoring inflation expectations and, going forward, further enhancements to the inflation concentrating on could possibly be thought-about, together with larger 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, building on a confirmed report of anchoring inflation expectations. Lifting potential progress and dwelling standards by means of public sector and business surroundings reforms.
With the demographic dividend materializing over the subsequent 20 years, lifting potential progress is a priority to realize financial success and social cohesion. This calls for wide-ranging public sector and enterprise climate reforms.
four. Properly-targeted and productive infrastructure and social spending would promote personal sector progress and key SDGs. The authorities should prioritize these investments generating the strongest externalities (resembling water and sanitation providers, preventive and first healthcare, pre-primary education schemes and academics’ training) and with the very best potential for value recovery and private sector participation (eg, transportation infrastructure). Congress approval of multi-year loans for schooling, health, meals safety, justice, infrastructure however water and sanitation, will enable the incorporation of those priorities into a medium-term price range framework. As spending is scaled-up, more focus ought to be placed on performance-based budgeting via strengthened monitoring and analysis, 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 whereas preserving the debt-to-GDP ratio broadly secure. This might preserve a secure macroeconomic framework conducive to non-public sector progress.
Public financing management
The authorities are generating financial savings by way of a sound public debt strategy, including 20-year and small-denomination, bond issuances. To cushion towards sudden shocks, the authorities have put in place a danger management monetary strategy, including an emergency fund, contingent credit strains, and pure disaster insurance coverage.
Public sector reforms
Mandatory reforms to reap effectivity features embrace (i) the laws on civil service and salaries within the public administration to facilitate public service professionalization (by way of meritocracy-based recruitment, incentives and coaching); (ii) the procurement regulation to bolster cost-effectiveness and stability agility and transparency; (iii) lowered revenue-earmarking and obligatory spending flooring but couching spending goals within 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 profitable implementation of the integral load management plan in Puerto Quetzal, tax income as a % of GDP has declined by round half proportion factors over 2016−18. Reversing the decline in tax assortment hinges on strengthening the massive taxpayer workplace administration, enhancing using tax info to deal with noncompliance, redirecting assets in the direction of risk-based auditing but rethink the lifting of financial institution secrecy for tax audit functions. Relating to the latter, the current suspension, in addition to denting tax collections, might undermine Guatemala’s compliance with respect to international transparency treaties.
6. The authorities’ agenda to advertise a thriving enterprise setting is commendable and must be expedited. The proposed agenda endeavours to improve the rule of regulation and the regulatory framework, which might dynamize funding and exports—each on a gentle decline over time. The adoption of an insolvency regulation and different initiatives to restore authorized certainty for large-scale investment tasks (e.g., swift incorporation of ILO Convention 169 into Guatemala’s domestic legal system) are essential to strengthen contract enforcement and enhance buyers’ confidence. Spearheading the PPP framework and passing the street infrastructure bill would catalyse personal investments and improve home market connectivity and competitiveness. Efforts aimed toward enhancing the issuance of development licenses should proceed as a way to ease the scarcity in residential housing and promote the development of middle-sized cities. A government-sponsored exports and investment promotion agency would foster exports and competitiveness, as would expedited customs procedures with El Salvador and Mexico building on the profitable expertise with Honduras.
7. The federal government should reaffirm its commitment to the anti-corruption agenda. Withdrawal from CICIG places a premium on sustaining prior legal and institutional progress and proceeding with excellent instances. Strengthening the lawyer basic’s workplace and judicial capacities must be focal points. Subsequently, efforts ought to go to fortify the investigative and prosecutorial competences and to scale back the judicial backlog. The authorities’ plans to increase the coverage of the public prosecutor’s workplace and to consolidate its financial independence are welcome. Furthermore, a pre-emptive technique is of the essence to scale back exposure to corruption and calls for reforms, partly ongoing, to strengthen the procurement and the AML/CFT framework, scale back purple tape, enhance contract enforcement but improve the transparency of tax exemptions.
Modernizing the financial system and enhancing monetary inclusion
8. The financial system is healthy but there’s room for additional modernization. Banks continue to be well-capitalized and liquid, whereas nonperforming loans stay low. The authorities ought to persevere in their efforts to align the financial sector with Basel III requirements. Initiatives meriting help embrace the bill on banks and financial groups, the draft AML/CFT bill, the securities market regulation but the digital cash regulation.
9. The authorities are inspired to flesh out a nationwide strategy for financial inclusion. Final yr’s reform of the code of commerce and movable ensures but the current approval of the factoring regulation are meant to facilitate SMEs’ entry to credit score. Additional efforts are needed to operationalize the 2016 microfinance regulation however to set in movement simplified financial institution accounts and credit score bureaus. The authorities have set up an interinstitutional fee to implement a nationwide technique for financial inclusion. To propel technological innovation, which includes FinTech options, 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 strategy
10. Unleashing larger and more inclusive potential progress calls for a nationwide dialogue. Building on success in macroeconomic administration, Guatemala is properly poised to embrace wide-ranging enterprise climate reforms and an SDG agenda. The time is ripe for forging a nationwide consensus in the direction of raising progress prospects and dwelling requirements.