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Global Economy

How much should Bhutan worry about debt?

Yoichiro Ishihara's picture
Bhutan hydropower
Construction of the Dagachhu Hydropower Plant in Bhutan. Photo Credit: Asian Development Bank

In many respects, Bhutan has been a development success story. Its people have benefitted from decades of sharp reductions in poverty combined with impressive improvements in health and education. The country is a global model in environmental conservation. It is the first carbon negative country; Bhutan’s forests, which cover over 70% of the country, absorb more carbon dioxide than is produced by its emissions.

The Kingdom of Happiness also must grapple with the reality of managing budgets, creating infrastructure, and preparing its citizens to be able to create and take advantage of jobs of the future. To do that, we are working with closely with Bhutan to build the foundations for a more prosperous future through the cultivation of a vibrant private sector economy and supporting green development.

At the same time, Bhutan has invested generously in hydropower energy production to create a reliable and lasting source of green energy for its people. It also benefits from exporting excess electricity to neighboring India, whose energy needs continue to increase at a rapid pace with their growing economy.

In large part due to the hydropower investments, Bhutan’s public debt was 107 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of March 2017. Hydropower external debt was at 77 percent of GDP with non-hydropower external debt accounting for 22 percent of GDP. Questions have arisen on whether this level of debt is sustainable and what should be done to address it.

World Bank guarantees help Pakistan get cheaper, longer term loans from international market

Enrique Blanco Armas's picture
Dasu
Photo Credit: Pakistan's Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA)

Compared to their investment needs, developing countries have very limited concessional financing available to them. International commercial banks are constrained in terms of the size and tenors of credits to Emerging Markets and Developing Economies. A key challenge therefore, is to channel large savings and capital into productive investments in developing countries, partly by ‘de-risking’ investments and borrowings.  Pakistan is at the forefront of these efforts, recently making use of two World Bank guarantees to access over 1 billion US dollars in two international commercial loan financings.

A $420 million IBRD Policy Based Guarantee (PBG) was approved by the World Bank Board alongside a $500 million IDA credit in June 2016. The PBG guarantee partially takes over the risk of a commercial bank’s loan to a government. The PBG and the IDA credit supported a program of reforms including the adoption of a new and more inclusive poverty line, efforts to broaden the tax base, enhanced transparency of State Owned Enterprises, improved debt management and a significant overhaul of the regulatory framework of the financial sector.  Improved access to international financing through the PBG will reduce the government’s dependence on domestic financing and free up resources for private sector investment. The guarantee also signals the World Bank’s confidence in Pakistan’s economic reforms program – a signal that is particularly important after the successful completion of the IMF program. The government used the US$420 million PBG to partly guarantee a 10-year US$700 million loan, extending tenor significantly and achieving cost savings.  

Four policy approaches to support job creation through Global Value Chains

Ruchira Kumar's picture
 Maria Fleischmann / World Bank

Mexico created over 60,000 jobs between 1993 to 2000 upgrading the apparel value chain from assembly to direct distribution to customers.  (Photo: Maria Fleischmann / World Bank)

As we discussed in our previous post, Global Value Chains can lead to the creation of more, inclusive and better jobs. GVCs can be a win-win for firms that create better jobs while they enjoy greater efficiency, productivity, and profits. However, there is a potential trade-off between increasing competitiveness and job creation, and the exact nature of positive labor market outcomes depends on several parameters. Given the cross-border (and, therefore, multiple jurisdictive) nature of GVCs, national policy choices to strengthen positive labor outcomes are limited. However, national governments can make policy decisions to facilitate GVC participation that is commensurate with positive labor market outcomes.

The Future of Jobs and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Business as Usual for Unusual Business

Jieun Choi's picture
The global economy is on the precipice of a Fourth Industrial Revolution – defined by evolving technological trends that have the potential to fundamentally change life for millions of people around the world. Increasingly, technology is connecting the digital world with the physical one, resulting in new innovations such as artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.
 

Global Value Chains: a way to create more, better and inclusive jobs

Ruchira Kumar's picture
Photo by Jonathan Ernst / World Bank

Global Value Chains are a win-win for firms that enjoy greater efficiency, productivity, and profits while they create better jobs (Photo by Jonathan Ernst / World Bank)
 
Global Value Chains (GVC) are significant vehicles of job creation, employing around 17 million people worldwide and carrying a share of 60 percent of global trade. As globalization increases, GVCs are becoming more relevant in international production, trade, and investments. And Global Value Chains also have an important effect on job creation, and these jobs usually have higher wages and better working conditions. Global Value Chains can become a win-win for firms, which enjoy greater efficiency, productivity, and profits while they create better jobs. Here are some revealing facts about the potential of GVCs to create more and better jobs.

Peer Pressure: Tax competition and developing economies

Michael Keen's picture
A race to the bottom. Graphic by Nicholas Nam/World Bank

Economists tend to agree on the importance of competition for a sound market economy. So what’s the problem when it comes to governments competing to attract investors through the tax treatment they provide? The trouble is that by competing with one another and eroding each other’s revenues, countries end up having to rely on other—typically more distortive—sources of financing or reduce much-needed public spending, or both.

All this has serious implications for developing countries because they are especially reliant on the corporate income tax for revenues. The risk that tax competition will pressure them into tax policies that endanger this key revenue source is therefore particularly worrisome.

Five actions that matter to the future of Aid for Trade

Anabel Gonzalez's picture
This week, myself and colleagues from the World Bank Group will participate in the World Trade Organization’s Sixth Global Review of Aid for Trade. The bi-annual meetings, held at WTO headquarters in Geneva, bring together trade ministers, civil society, international development institutions and the private sector to monitor progress made toward connecting developing countries to the global trade system.

Reaffirming our commitment to carbon pricing and climate action

Catherine McKenna's picture
Second Annual Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition High-Level Assembly. Photo: World Bank


When the world united around the historic Paris climate agreement, in 2015, the message was clear: It’s unfair to pass the burden of climate change to future generations.

We now need to put words into action. This week, leaders from 20 of the largest economies are meeting in Hamburg to find solutions to global challenges. Climate change will be front and center.

As the co-chairs of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC), we want to accelerate climate action and reaffirm our commitment to carbon pricing. The discussions in Germany are a great opportunity to keep the momentum going.
 
Launched during the Paris climate talks, the CPLC now consists of 30 governments and over 140 businesses, all fighting for a common cause: to advocate for the pricing of carbon emissions across the world. We are calling for bold leadership from everyone – governments, companies, academia and civil society. The CPLC provides a forum for these groups to show collaborative leadership on carbon pricing.

How does Sri Lanka score in growth?

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture


While some may think the Sri Lanka’s cricket team did well in the recent Champion's Trophy, myself included, vigorous debates have been going on, on TV and social media and even here in our office which clearly suggests that not everyone agrees on their performance. Despite these differences in perspective, I witnessed the excitement of many of my colleagues and friends from different parts of the world as they cheered, supported opposing teams, analyzed the games, and mulled the behind the scenes politics that affect the game, and also passed judgements on winners and losers.  The key point here is that for Sri Lanka to be in the top 8 internationally they had to play other countries. This analogy fits well with how economies grow and are recognized; so hold on to this thought. 

Reading through the many articles in the news, be they paper, internet or just exchanges between citizens on social media, one thing is clear, there is no one unified view on how Sri Lanka is growing. While developed countries would salivate at a growth rate of 4.4 percent, in Sri Lanka it is considered below potential. Some even question if it’s growing! The result is a confusing landscape on an important issue that touches everyone in some way.   

Twice a year the World Bank adds data and analyses to the many out there. We try to answer questions such as: what is Sri Lanka’s actual growth? Which parts of the economy have grown and which have not? If the country is to accelerate growth, what needs to be done? What can its people do to help? We know from cricket that the players can be excellent but if no-one cheers for them, they lose interest and cannot be successful. Eventually the game loses its luster and the competitive edge of the country’s ranking also slips. Both sides need to understand what needs to be achieved, how, by whom and when the team doesn’t quite deliver in a match, what part of the game should they change. This is what has made Sri Lanka a cricket powerhouse.

The Philippines: Resurrecting Manufacturing in a Services Economy

Birgit Hansl's picture
In recent years, the Philippines has ranked among the world's fastest-growing economies but needs to adjust to the demands of a dynamic global economy.

The Philippines is at a fork in the road. Despite good results on the growth front, trends observed in trade competitiveness, Global Value Chain (GVC) integration and product space evolution, send worrisome signals. The country has solid fundamentals and remarkable human assets to leapfrog into the 4th Industrial Revolution – where the distinction between goods and services have become obsolete. Yet it does not get the most out of this growth, especially with regards to long-term development prospects. In order to do so, the government will have to make the right policy choices.


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