On December 15, 2017, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the first and second reviews of Mongolia’s performance under the program supported by a three-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). Completion of the review enables Mongolia to draw the equivalent of SDR 55.912 million (about US$ 79.1 million), bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 83.868 million (about US$ 118.6 million).
Performance under the program thus far has been strong. Growth in 2017 is projected to reach 3.3 percent, considerably better than forecasted at the time of program approval. The combination of strong policy implementation and a supportive external environment has helped the authorities over-perform on all of the quantitative targets under the program. Performance on structural reforms has also been strong, notwithstanding the delays due to the change in government in September.
Mongolia’s three-year extended arrangement was approved on May 24, 2017, in an amount equivalent to SDR 314.5054 million, or about US$425 million at the time of approval of the arrangement (see Press Release No. 17/193 ). The government’s Economic Recovery Program, supported by the IMF, aims to stabilize the economy, reduce the fiscal deficit and debt, rebuild foreign exchange reserves, introduce measures to mitigate the boom-bust cycle and promote sustainable and inclusive growth.
Following the Executive Board’s discussion of the review, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director, said:
“Mongolia’s performance under the Fund-supported program has been positive, despite delays related to political developments. Growth has recovered more strongly than anticipated and confidence is returning, allowing the exchange rate to stabilize, external financing costs to fall, and foreign exchange reserves to recover. The authorities have cut the fiscal deficit and have started structural reforms that would improve the quality of growth going forward.
“All quantitative targets under the program have been met. Fiscal results have been better than expected, supported by stronger revenues and tight expenditure control, and the fiscal deficit this year, at 7.6 percent of GDP, is less than half of what it was in 2016. The recently approved 2017 Supplementary Budget and the 2018 Budget are in line with the program. About half of the revenue overperformance will be saved, thus helping to reduce borrowing and control debt, while the remainder will be used to fund productive spending in line with the government action plan and for a one-off bonus to civil servants. Net international reserves have improved, reflecting strong coal export performance, capital inflows into the bond and money markets, and donor disbursements.
“Despite an unsettled political environment, the authorities are moving ahead with ambitious structural reforms that will help sustain growth over the medium term, promote competitiveness and diversification, and mitigate the boom-bust cycle. The rehabilitation and strengthening of the banking system is underway: the results of the comprehensive Asset Quality Review are expected imminently and the Bank of Mongolia is taking steps to improve the regulatory and supervisory framework. Important legal reforms regarding the governance and operations of the Bank of Mongolia, the Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the banks are expected to be passed soon. On the fiscal side, progress is being made in strengthening tax administration, tax policy, and budgetary controls, including through the establishment of a high-level working group on tax policy. To strengthen the social safety net and target pro-poor expenditures toward the most vulnerable, the government is focusing the Child Money Program on less affluent families and using the savings to increase food stamps for the poor.
“With debt still high and the economy still exposed to global commodity developments, it is critical to maintain strong commitment to the program. Sustained implementation of the reform agenda, will help cement solid growth, improve confidence, strengthen fiscal revenues and foreign reserves, and mobilize donor support.”
Source: International Monetary Fund