KEY ISSUES Background: In February 2014, the Executive Board approved a three-year Extended Arrangement with access equivalent to SDR 295.42 million (492.4 percent of quota). So far, three purchases totaling the equivalent of SDR 94.2 million have been made, and another one equivalent to SDR 28.88 million will be made available upon completion of the fourth review. Recent Economic Developments: Economic recovery is underway, but growth remains below potential. The low oil price is expected to have a muted effect on growth and on the balance of payments, as pass-through is weak and Albania is only a small net oil exporter. High non-performing loans (NPLs) make banks risk-averse, and credit growth remains sluggish despite monetary easing. Program Performance and Risks: The program is on track. All end-December 2014 and continuous performance criteria (PCs) and most indicative targets (ITs) were met, with comfortable margins. An exception was the IT on new domestic arrears, which was missed by a small margin; the authorities will repay the arrears by end-April and have taken other corrective measures to prevent arrears from recurring. Inflation has been slightly below the inner band prescribed under the inflation consultation clause. All but one structural benchmarks (SBs) were implemented, though two more were delayed. Delays in the appointment of a new central bank governor as well as in procurement postponed the hiring of an external expert to assist the Bank of Albania’s Audit Committee from February to May 2015. Program risks emanate from external disinflationary pressures, the complexity of electricity sector reforms, and the need for sustained political commitment to fiscal adjustment. The authorities request, and staff supports, a modification of PCs for August and December 2015, and a waiver of applicability for all end-April 2015 PCs. Policy Recommendations: The authorities should shield the 2015 budget deficit target from the risk of falling oil royalties and external disinflationary pressures. Reducing public debt over the medium term will require political commitment to sustain the significant fiscal consolidation which began in 2014. The central bank’s cautious monetary easing is broadly appropriate. Addressing the high stock of NPLs is crucial for reviving credit. The micro-prudential focus on the fastest-growing segments of the banking system is appropriate. Regulatory gaps in nonbank supervision should be filled promptly. While the early results from the authorities’ ambitious power sector reform have been impressive, sustaining the effort is critical.
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|Size: ||9.0 MB|
|Publisher: ||INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND|
|Date published: || 2015|
|ISBN: ||9781513598864 (DRM-EPUB)|
|Read Aloud: ||not allowed|