WASHINGTON – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday called for countries to prepare fiscal policies and work together to counter worsening global fiscal positions.
“Fiscal positions have worsened significantly since the April 2015 Fiscal Monitor, with public debt ratios being revised upward in most countries,” said the IMF in its latest Fiscal Monitor report.
For emerging markets and middle-income economies, fiscal deficit ratios in 2015-16 are now expected to exceed the levels observed at the beginning of the global financial crisis. The fiscal positions of commodity exporters have been especially hard hit.
Advanced economies have also remained vulnerable in a context of high public debt, greater than 100 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on average, low inflation and sluggish growth.
“In this difficult environment, fiscal policies must be prepared to respond promptly to support growth and reduce vulnerabilities,” said the report.
“They (countries) must be prepared to act together to fend off global risk,” said Vitor Gaspar, director of IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, at the press conference releasing the report.
The report said the fiscal measures for advanced economies should focus on boosting both short- and medium-term growth, such as infrastructure investment and structural reforms.
For commodity exporters, their public spending has to be realigned with tighter resources. To reduce the pain of this adjustment, those countries should improve revenue diversification and cut poorly targeted and wasteful spending.
In other emerging markets and developing economies, key challenges to fiscal policies are to create budgetary room to respond to rising demand for public services, improve the provision of health and education and develop infrastructure, said the report, adding that these objectives can be achieved by implementing pro-growth structural reforms, better mobilizing revenues and improving expenditure efficiency.