|Targeted News Service|
A team from the
At the conclusion of the visit, Ms.
"In this environment, the fiscal position has come under increasing strain. The central government deficit is expected to rise to 9.5 percent of GDP in 2013/14 and central government debt had risen to 94 percent of GDP by
"A strategic, comprehensive approach is needed to address the underlying weaknesses in public finances and to increase efficiency in the public sector. Policy formulation should be guided by a medium-term fiscal anchor to reduce central government debt to below 85 percent of GDP by 2018. A fundamental review of the tax system is warranted, and the authorities have requested technical assistance on this from the IMF. The goal would be to broaden the revenue base, which has been seriously eroded by statutory and discretionary waivers. In the interim, a number of measures could be taken to significantly improve the yield by strengthening compliance and efficiency in revenue and customs administration.
"The central government wage bill rose to 10.3 percent of GDP in 2012/13, the highest in the region, which together with interest payments limits room for investment spending. Staff takes note of the government's decision to reduce the civil service up front. This will lower spending and send a strong signal about policy commitment, though these workers should have access to unemployment support and programs for re-employment. Alternatively, downsizing by attrition and implementing a wage formula that freezes the average wage per worker would also reduce the wage bill significantly over time and would contribute to lowering economy-wide labor costs. This is needed to raise
"There is scope to greatly improve the targeting of social spending and lower costs to ensure that