IMF reviews performance of Jordan’s EFF-supported anti-COVID-19 program
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has completed the first review of Jordan’s performance under the program supported by the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
Jordan’s four-year EFF of SDR 926.37 million (about US$1.3 billion, equivalent to 270 percent of Jordan’s quota in the IMF), was approved by the IMF’s Board on March 25, 2020 (see Press Release No. 20/107).
The IMF has enhanced the built-in flexibility in the program to accommodate spending needed to prevent, detect, control, treat, and contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as additional social protection spending.
In completing the review, the IMF Executive Board approved the waivers of non-observance on the performance criteria on the central government primary deficit and the combined public deficit (both excluding grants).
The Board also approved the modification of targets going forward, and rephasing of structural conditionality, as well as the authorities’ request to rephase access under Jordan’s EFF arrangement by bringing forward about US$150 million in Fund disbursements into 2021–22 to support near-term financing, needs emerging in the aftermath of COVID-19.
The completion of the review will make SDR 102.93 million (about US$148 million) immediately available. This brings total IMF disbursements to Jordan in 2020 to SDR 497.41 million (around US$689 million), including an SDR 291.55 million (about US$401 million) purchase in May under the Rapid Financing Instrument.
COVID-19 has taken a toll on the economy with unemployment rising to a record high and fiscal and external deficits widening. The Fund’s financial support will help Jordan meet these challenges and catalyze support from other development partners.
Following the Executive Board discussion of Jordan’s economic program, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:
“The impact of COVID-19 on the Jordanian economy has been sizable, but the authorities have responded with timely and targeted measures to protect lives and livelihoods, while also preserving debt sustainability and market access. Despite sizeable challenges, the authorities remain committed to gradually rebuilding policy buffers and arresting the rise in public debt; preserving the credibility of the peg; accelerating electricity sector reforms; and enhancing labor market, business climate, and governance reforms to promote higher and more inclusive growth.
“In the near term, the fiscal policy continues to focus on supporting the economy, with enhanced flexibility in the program to accommodate unanticipated spending related to the pandemic, as well as additional social protection spending.
“High-quality fiscal measures should underpin a gradual fiscal consolidation as the recovery takes hold. In this regard, the authorities’ strategy should focus on broadening the tax base through both tax policy and tax administration reforms; eliminating pressures from public utilities and public-private partnerships; and improving the fairness, efficiency, and transparency of public finances.
“Monetary policy should remain supportive given the still-fragile economy while safeguarding the peg. The financial system is sound, but continued efforts will be needed to preserve its stability and promote financial inclusion. The Financial Sector Assessment Program update in 2022 will provide a timely and comprehensive diagnostic and help layout a roadmap for medium-term financial sector reforms.
“Sustained efforts are needed to achieve durable, inclusive, and jobs-rich growth. Reforms should focus on improving the business climate, reducing unemployment, particularly among women and youth, enhancing competitiveness, and strengthening governance. On the latter, the in-train amendments to the illicit gains law, publication of details of COVID-related spending, and initiation of a review of the most significant power purchase agreement are welcome steps.
“While the COVID-19 outbreak continues to pose significant risks to program implementation, these are mitigated by the authorities’ strong commitment to the program. This, together with stepped up financial support from development partners, especially in the form of grants, will help Jordan achieve program objectives, build a stronger economy and support refugees.”
Source: Jordan News Agency