Kyrgyzstan: economic growth exceeds expectations in 2017 — IMF

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s economic growth exceeded expectations in 2017, with GDP growing by 4.5 percent and the recovery encompassing most sectors, Edward Gemayel said in a statement after an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team he led visited Bishkek during January 25-31.

“Demand was supported by remittances, which surged 25 percent in dollar terms, and public spending, which grew by 4 percent of GDP. Headline inflation at 3.6 percent remained below the National Bank’s target range of 5–7 percent,” the statement said.

“The 2017 fiscal deficit was kept close to the 3.5 percent of GDP target, despite a significant fiscal expansion in the run-up to the October presidential elections and weak tax revenue collection. The economic recovery and efforts to tighten expenditures after the elections helped limit the deficit.

“The authorities should take fiscal and structural measures to limit the deficit to the targeted 2.5 percent of GDP in 2018. They should also improve revenue performance and refrain from introducing new or extending expiring tax exemptions, including the tax exemptions on ATM equipment and agricultural cooperatives.
Preparatory work is underway to streamline the public sector wage bill, restore the energy sector’s sustainability by adjusting tariffs, and amend the law on universal child allowances to reintroduce targeting. The authorities should formulate amendments to the Budget Code to introduce a credible and enforceable fiscal rule and to close loopholes for extra-budgetary spending.

“Exchange rate volatility towards the end of 2017 and early this year prompted several National Bank (NBKR) interventions. For exchange rate flexibility to deliver the macroeconomic benefit of acting as a shock absorber, the NBKR should restrict interventions to solely smoothing out excessive volatility.

“The recent rejection by Parliament of the amendments to the Banking Law, which aim to improve NBKR’s governance and ensure financial sector health, represents a setback for reforms. Efforts should be redoubled to reintroduce these important amendments and ensure their adoption.

“The authorities remain committed to carry out reforms aimed at improving the business climate, including by improving governance and continuing to combat corruption. In that regard, efforts should be pursued to resubmit an AML/CFT law in line with international standards. Public finance management reforms should be accelerated to enhance the transparency and credibility of the fiscal framework,” the statement concludes.

During the visit the IMF team met with Kyrgyzstan’s Deputy Prime Minister Mukanbetov, Minister of Finance Kasymaliev, Chairman of the National Bank Abdygulov, Head of the Financial and Economic Analysis and Monitoring Department at the President’s Administration Ahmetova, and representatives of the diplomatic community.

Sergey Kwan

TCA