Chart of the Week: Government Debt Is Not the Whole Story: Look at the Assets

2019-03-13T12:26:49-04:00October 23, 2018|

By IMFBlog

October 23, 2018

The Millennium Bridge in London, England: governments often don’t include the value of their assets, like bridges and roads, as well as natural resources, when they measure public wealth (Ingram Publishing/Newscom)

Lost track of your personal finances?  You are not alone.  Your government has often lost track of its finances too.  While it keeps close tabs on debt, it is less clear on how much it owns: the assets. […]

Sub-Saharan Africa: Diversifying for Tomorrow

2019-03-14T15:31:34-04:00February 16, 2018|

By IMFBlog

February 16, 2018

Photo: iStock by Getty Images/subman

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to diversify their economies, and the region’s youth need to be at the heart of it, says Axel Schimmelpfennig.

Schimmelpfennig is head of the IMF team for Uganda, and a coauthor of a study that looks at the potential benefits of a stepped-up diversification agenda in sub-Saharan Africa.

In this podcast, Schimmelpfennig talks about the need for sub-Saharan Africa to increase productivity in areas like agriculture and manufacturing to become more competitive in the export market and allow for increasing wages. […]

Taxes, Debt and Development: A One-Percent Rule to Raise Revenues in Africa

2019-03-15T13:21:23-04:00December 5, 2017|

By Vitor Gaspar and Abebe Aemro Selassie

December 5, 2017

Versions in عربي (Arabic), 中文(Chinese),  Español (Spanish), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese),  Русский (Russian)

School children in Ghana: building a country’s tax capacity helps pay for education and health care (photo: Vacca Sintesi/SIPA/Newscom).

Tax revenues play a critical role for countries to create room in their budgets to increase spending on social services like health and education, and public investment. At a time when public debt levels in sub-Saharan Africa have increased sharply, raising tax revenues is the most growth-friendly way to stabilize debt. More broadly, building a country’s tax capacity is at the center of any viable development strategy to meet the ongoing needs for expanding education and health care, and filling significant infrastructure gaps. […]

Roads or Schools: A Critical Tradeoff

2019-03-15T13:32:49-04:00November 9, 2017|

By Manoj Atolia, Bin Grace Li, Ricardo Marto, and Giovanni Melina

November 9, 2017 

Versions in 中文(Chinese), Español (Spanish), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese)

Low-income countries tend to spend less on schools than on roads as a share of GDP (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Roads or schools? It’s a question akin to the “guns or butter” choice that governments around the world confronted in the 20th century: How to spend a nation’s finite resources to produce the maximum benefit for its people.

In our recent IMF Working Paper, we find that low-income countries tend to spend less on schools than on roads as a share of GDP—even though investment in education may be a more pressing need in their societies. 

[…]

Uganda’s Recipe for Growth

2019-03-25T12:37:18-04:00July 21, 2017|

By IMFBlog

July 21, 2017

Construction worker in Uganda (photo: James Akena/Reuters/Newscom)

After two decades of steady growth, Uganda’s economy has slowed, and life for Ugandans is not improving fast enough.

Drought in the Horn of Africa, regional conflict, and slow credit growth have contributed to this decline, with per capita growth falling to ½ percent from an average of 5 percent for the past 20 years. […]

The Fruits of Growth: Economic Reforms and Lower Inequality

2019-03-26T13:25:50-04:00January 26, 2017|

Lagarde.2015MDPORTRAIT4_114x128By Christine Lagarde

Versions in: عربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese), Português (Portuguese), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

Growth is essential for improving the lives of people in low-income countries, and it should benefit all parts of society.

Traveling through Africa in the last few days, I have been amazed by the vitality I have witnessed: business startups investing in the future, new infrastructure under construction, and a growing middle class. Many Africans are now making a better living and fewer are suffering from poverty. My current host, Uganda, for example, has more than halved its absolute poverty rate to about 35 percent from close to 90 percent in 1990.

But we have also seen a flip side. Poverty, of course, but inequality as well remain stubbornly high in most developing countries, including in Africa, and too often success is not shared by all.  […]

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