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Endeudarse con prudencia, gastar con prudencia: Apoyando la gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública en los países de renta baja

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Una gestión sólida de las finanzas públicas es fundamental para fomentar disciplina fiscal y hacer un uso eficiente y eficaz de los escasos recursos públicos en países de renta baja (PRB). Deficiencias en el manejo de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública pueden tener múltiples repercusiones sobre el desarrollo de un país, incluso limitando la implementación de políticas públicas. Una Show MoreUna gestión sólida de las finanzas públicas es fundamental para fomentar disciplina fiscal y hacer un uso eficiente y eficaz de los escasos recursos públicos en países de renta baja (PRB). Deficiencias en el manejo de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública pueden tener múltiples repercusiones sobre el desarrollo de un país, incluso limitando la implementación de políticas públicas. Una nueva evaluación del Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), estudia el impacto de iniciativas impulsadas por el Banco Mundial encaminadas a promover una gestión adecuada de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública. La evaluación se enfoca en los países elegibles para recibir financiamiento de la Asociación Internacional de Fomento (AIF) — el fondo del Grupo del Banco Mundial para los países más pobres. Este es un asunto de altísima relevancia en el contexto actual, tras la pandemia de la COVID-19 y a medida que un número cada vez mayor de PRB vuelven a estar sobreendeudados o en riesgo de estarlo. Mientras que los gobiernos activan cambios rápidos en sus políticas y en el gasto público para responder a la pandemia, resulta crucial contar con unos sistemas de gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública que sean sólidos, de rápida reacción y flexibles para: utilizar los escasos recursos de manera eficiente para garantizar su rentabilidad y evitar el uso no autorizado de fondos; Acelerar la ejecución presupuestaria y habilitar los fondos necesarios para prestar servicios públicos esenciales y de emergencia, y gestionar los costes y los riesgos asociados al inevitable aumento del endeudamiento a corto plazo. La crisis de la deuda: un déjà vu Aun antes del inicio de la pandemia se evidenciaba un resurgimiento del riesgo de sobreendeudamiento en los PRB, incluso entre algunos que ya se habían beneficiado de medidas a gran escala para aliviar su deuda. Desde el 2013, el número de países elegibles para recibir fondos de la AIF que estaban sobreendeudados, o en riesgo de estarlo, se duplicó con creces (pasando de 13 a 34 países), y la relación deuda/PIB pasó del 40 % al 60 %. Entre 2013 y 2018, el pago promedio de intereses entre los PRB aumentó un 128 %. Y todo esto ocurrió mientras el Banco Mundial y otros actores ampliaban las medidas de apoyo a la gestión de la deuda. La gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública suelen considerarse de forma separada, aun si en la 19.ª reposición de la AIF se destaca claramente la necesidad de abordarlos conjuntamente: «La principal tarea es ayudar a los países de la AIF a garantizar que los beneficios [de los recursos adquiridos con deuda] superen los costos requeridos para pagar esa deuda. La AIF y otros colaboradores pueden ayudar con iniciativas que mejoren las capacidades de sus países en áreas como la gestión de las finanzas públicas, la gestión de la inversión pública […] y la gestión de la deuda» (pág. 19)». La complementariedad entre los ejes de la gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública es el tema central en la evaluación de IEG.   Esta evaluación se enfoca en la década posterior a la crisis financiera mundial del 2008, un periodo en el que varios PRB aumentaron su deuda no concesional y de corto plazo. Gran parte de esta deuda se contrajo de forma bilateral y, a menudo, en condiciones relativamente opacas. Muchos PRB también se vieron afectados por los bajos precios de las materias primas y por la materialización de grandes pasivos contingentes, incluidos los asociados a empresas estatales. Este periodo también estuvo caracterizado por un creciente interés en adelantar políticas de gasto público dirigidas a «potenciar el crecimiento», a impulsar inversiones para reducir el déficit de infraestructura y a cumplir con los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio y, posteriormente, con los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible. Asistencia del Banco Mundial a la gestión de las finanzas y de la deuda públicas: efectiva, pero descoordinada La evaluación encontró que la asistencia para mejorar la gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública en los países elegibles para recibir fondos de la AIF tuvo resultados positivos, aunque de forma limitada. Esta asistencia permitió la implementación de sistemas informáticos de gestión financiera que facilitaban el seguimiento y la gestión del gasto público, pero no se llegaron a introducir sistemas que incluyeran transacciones de alto valor. Así mismo, un mayor número de países, entre los elegibles para recibir fondos de la AIF, lograron cumplir con los requisitos mínimos establecidos en las diferentes dimensiones de la capacidad de gestión de la deuda, incluidas la generación de capacidad para elaborar estrategias de gestión de la deuda a mediano plazo y análisis de sostenibilidad de la deuda. Sin embargo, en el caso de muchos de los países más vulnerables, la asistencia a la gestión de la deuda no iba acompañada sistemáticamente ni se coordinaba con iniciativas orientadas a mejorar la gestión de las finanzas públicas, a pesar de las reconocidas sinergias que existen entre el endeudamiento, la transparencia fiscal y la calidad del gasto público y de la inversión pública. Esto resulta problemático, dado que muchos PRB financiaron proyectos de inversión endeudándose en mercados privados y con donantes bilaterales, y por lo tanto podrían haberse beneficiado de mejoras estructurales y de sistemas institucionales que les permitieran desarrollar la calidad y la eficiencia del gasto público. Es probable que se hayan perdido oportunidades para impulsar el impacto de la inversión pública financiada con deuda sobre el crecimiento de los PRB, todo ello con consecuencias potencialmente negativas para sostenibilidad de la deuda. El Banco Mundial ha realizado Diagnósticos de la Gestión de la Inversión Pública (PIM, por sus siglas en inglés) para menos de la mitad de los países elegibles para recibir fondos de la AIF, y la demanda para estos análisis se concentra en los PRB con mayor nivel de renta. De los 32 países elegibles para recibir apoyo de la AIF identificados en el ejercicio fiscal de 2018 que están sobreendeudados, o con alto riesgo de estarlo, solo 10 recibieron asistencia para realizar PIM durante la década anterior. Dada la creciente importancia de aumentar el impacto de los escasos recursos públicos en vista del aumento de los niveles de deuda, es necesario adoptar un enfoque más consciente y coordinado para desarrollar la capacidad de gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública. Esto permitiría al Banco Mundial alcanzar el objetivo estratégico 19 de la AIF en el que se propone ayudar a sus países a garantizar que la carga de la deuda no sobrepase su capacidad de reducir la pobreza o de proporcionar servicios públicos esenciales. La manera descentralizada y descoordinada en que el Banco Mundial ha realizado y utilizado los análisis de gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública sugiere que hay margen para materializar más sinergias entre esos dos ejes. Una vía para avanzar La evaluación de IEG recomienda que el Banco Mundial mantenga un panorama claro y actualizado de las fortalezas y debilidades en la gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública en cada uno de los países elegibles para recibir fondos de la AIF, basándose en los análisis existentes sobre sus principales dimensiones. Esto ya se ha abordado «dentro» de los ejes de la gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública, pero las sinergias «entre» estos dos ejes siguen sin aprovecharse. La evaluación también recomienda que el Banco Mundial proporcione asistencia a la gestión de las finanzas públicas y la deuda pública de manera más sistemática en los países elegibles para recibir fondos de la AIF, con ayudas crediticias y no crediticias más ordenadas y complementarias. La aplicación de la nueva Política de Financiamiento para el Desarrollo Sostenible, y junto a esta la identificación de acciones a nivel de políticas y de rendimiento, proporciona una oportunidad temprana para adoptar una visión más integral de la gestión de las finanzas públicas y de la deuda pública a nivel de país. Ante los shocks económicos derivados de la pandemia, iniciativas con un enfoque más amplio sobre el endeudamiento y el gasto serán aun más importantes.   Lea el estudio: World Bank Support for Public Financial and Debt Management in IDA-eligible Countries Imagen de: Shutterstock/AntartStock

Confronting the Learning Crisis: Lessons from World Bank Support for Basic Education, 2012–22 (Approach Paper)

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The achievement of learning outcomes has been a long-standing challenge for education systems across the developing world and has significant consequences for economic development. To realize the development aims of education investments, students need to learn, but too many have not, especially in low-income countries. The World Bank has sought to address this learning crisis for more than a Show MoreThe achievement of learning outcomes has been a long-standing challenge for education systems across the developing world and has significant consequences for economic development. To realize the development aims of education investments, students need to learn, but too many have not, especially in low-income countries. The World Bank has sought to address this learning crisis for more than a decade through the pursuit of quality education that enhances learning outcomes. The Independent Evaluation Group’s (IEG) proposed evaluation will assess the extent to which the World Bank’s Education Global Practice (GP) and its predecessor, the Education sector unit, have supported efforts to improve learning outcomes over the past decade (fiscal years [FY]12–22). Based on that experience, the evaluation will assess the effectiveness, relevance, and adequacy of World Bank support to address the learning crisis. It will identify lessons and recommendations to inform the next education sector strategy and further development of the World Bank’s approach to this persistent development challenge and the exacerbation of learning deficits during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

International Finance Corporation Country Diagnostics and Strategies Under IFC 3.0: An Early-Stage Assessment (Approach Paper)

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In December 2016, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) introduced its latest strategy, IFC 3.0, which aimed to enhance IFC’s development impact by creating “new and stronger markets for private sector solutions” (IFC 2019) and “mobilizing private capital at significant scale” (IFC 2021) where it is needed the most. To achieve IFC 3.0’s aims of market creation and private capital Show MoreIn December 2016, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) introduced its latest strategy, IFC 3.0, which aimed to enhance IFC’s development impact by creating “new and stronger markets for private sector solutions” (IFC 2019) and “mobilizing private capital at significant scale” (IFC 2021) where it is needed the most. To achieve IFC 3.0’s aims of market creation and private capital mobilization at scale, IFC recognized it would need new tools and analytical capabilities to: (i) Develop a deeper understanding of the constraints limiting private sector solutions and opportunities in each country’s economy, including in key enabling and productive sectors; and (ii) Allow for a more strategic selection, sequencing, and implementation of its activities and stronger coordination across the World Bank Group. At the country level, IFC 3.0’s tools included a new diagnostic instrument, the Country Private Sector Diagnostic (CPSD), and a new strategy instrument, the IFC Country Strategy. The objective of the evaluation is to assess whether IFC Country Strategies and CPSDs have enhanced IFC’s ability to create markets and mobilize capital at scale and have informed Bank Group collaboration on private sector development. The evaluation will focus on IFC Country Strategies and CPSDs completed since their inception in fiscal year (FY)18. The evaluation will cover all 50 IFC Country Strategies and the 31 CPSDs completed between FY18 and December 31, 2021.

The World Bank’s Role in and Use of the Low-Income Country Debt Sustainability Framework (Approach Paper)

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Interest is high on the World Bank’s role in and use of the Low-Income Country Debt Sustainability Framework (LIC-DSF) in light of the sharp rise in debt stress among low-income countries and a changing global risk landscape in the years leading up to and resulting from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Since 2015, the number of IDA-eligible countries at high risk of or in debt distress has Show MoreInterest is high on the World Bank’s role in and use of the Low-Income Country Debt Sustainability Framework (LIC-DSF) in light of the sharp rise in debt stress among low-income countries and a changing global risk landscape in the years leading up to and resulting from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Since 2015, the number of IDA-eligible countries at high risk of or in debt distress has more than doubled. As the key instrument to assess the debt sustainability of IDA eligible countries, the LIC-DSF is intended to guide the World Bank’s advice and support to these countries. This evaluation seeks to assess how the World Bank contributes to the LIC-DSF, how it uses LIC-DSF output in various corporate and country-level decisions, and how it can better leverage the LIC-DSF to address debt vulnerabilities in LICs. In doing so, it will seek to identify opportunities for the World Bank to strengthen its role in the preparation and use of the LIC-DSF in a changing global context and to highlight potentially important questions that may need to be addressed in the upcoming joint review, including the extent to which the LIC-DSF meets IDA’s needs in serving its clients. Recommendations from this evaluation will focus on aspects of the LIC-DSF that are within the World Bank’s ability to change or influence.

Gros plan sur le financement à l’appui des politiques de développement dans les États fragiles

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A monument of a broken cylinder being held up by a statue with five arms. The “Saving Iraqi Culture” monument in Baghdad designed by sculptor Mohammed Ghani Hikmat. Iraq is one of top five DPF recipients in FCV settings. Credit: Rasool Ali/Shutterstock
Réévaluer la réalité du « bien » dans les situations volatiles et incertaines pour favoriser une prise de risque plus éclairée.Réévaluer la réalité du « bien » dans les situations volatiles et incertaines pour favoriser une prise de risque plus éclairée.

International Finance Corporation Additionality in Middle-Income Countries (Approach Paper)

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Accounting for almost half of global gross domestic product and 70 percent of the world’s population, middle-income countries (MICs) face multiple development challenges limiting achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including poverty and inclusion, climate change, financial access, and economic diversification and market development. The International Finance Corporation’s ( Show MoreAccounting for almost half of global gross domestic product and 70 percent of the world’s population, middle-income countries (MICs) face multiple development challenges limiting achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including poverty and inclusion, climate change, financial access, and economic diversification and market development. The International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) portfolio is focused heavily on MICs. Additionality is the unique support that IFC brings to a private client or client country that is not typically offered by commercial sources of finance (IFC 2019). This evaluation assesses the unique support and value addition (additionality) that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) provides to middle-income countries (MICs). It will cover IFC’s support of MICs through investment and advisory projects, and through its platforms and partnerships. The primary audience is the World Bank Group Board and IFC management and staff, however some findings of the evaluation will be relevant to a broader audience including multilateral and bilateral financing private sector activities, investors, and government officials and practitioners in client countries.

Debt sustainability in fragile and conflict-affected states: heightened risks and needs

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Fragile and conflict-affected countries face a daunting reality of critical spending needs and heightened exposure to shocks. International support can help relieve debt distress by enhancing fiscal management.Fragile and conflict-affected countries face a daunting reality of critical spending needs and heightened exposure to shocks. International support can help relieve debt distress by enhancing fiscal management.

🎧 Debt Déjà Vu: Learning from Previous Waves of Debt Crises to Weather Current and Future Storms

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Debt Déjà Vu: Learning from Previous Waves of Debt Crises to Weather Current and Future Storms
Many low-income countries are facing a resurgence in their debt burdens. How did we get back here? Many low-income countries are facing a resurgence in their debt burdens. How did we get back here?

Will the World Bank's Sustainable Development Finance Policy lower the risk of debt distress?

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Abstract image, wave-like, with black and white and beige, with the word DEBT visible.  image credit: By Adelina ART
When asked how he went bankrupt, a character in one of Ernest Hemingway’s novels offered the now famous explanation: “Gradually, and then all of a sudden.” It could be said that the rise of debt stress in low-income countries has followed a similar pattern. For countries eligible for IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, the number deemed at high risk of, or in, debt distress more Show MoreWhen asked how he went bankrupt, a character in one of Ernest Hemingway’s novels offered the now famous explanation: “Gradually, and then all of a sudden.” It could be said that the rise of debt stress in low-income countries has followed a similar pattern. For countries eligible for IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, the number deemed at high risk of, or in, debt distress more than doubled (from 19 to 40) over the past decade. One third of these countries experienced a two-level deterioration (either from low to high risk, or moderate to in debt distress) in less than three years. On July 1, 2020, as part of its efforts to help change the trajectory on debt distress in IDA-eligible countries, the World Bank launched the Sustainable Development Finance Policy (SDFP.) Sustainable public borrowing has an important role to play in low-income countries, including to finance investments for economic growth and poverty alleviation. It is also critical for countercyclical public spending during economic downturns, such as the current downturn caused by the pandemic. Servicing growing levels of debt, however, can crowd out spending on core public services like education, health, and basic infrastructure, and choke off access to affordable finance. The SDFP aims to create incentives for both IDA borrowers and their creditors to manage debt accumulation in a sustainable and transparent manner. In view of the importance of effective debt management both to the recovery from the pandemic and to keep development agendas on track, the World Bank Board's Committee on Development Effectiveness asked the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) to conduct an "early stage" assessment of the SDFP to identify opportunities to strengthen the policy's effectiveness. What was learned from the first year's implementation? In many ways, the SDFP is an improvement over the Non-Concessional Borrowing Policy (NCBP) that it replaced. Crucially, it takes a broader view of the types of countries at risk of debt distress, and the potential sources of debt. The NCBP applied to IDA-only countries, not IDA "blend" or "gap" countries (countries which meet some conditions for non-concessional IBRD borrowing but also some for IDA), despite the fact that a third of the IDA-eligible countries at high risk of or in debt distress by 2020 were blend or gap countries. The SDFP expands coverage to include all IDA-eligible countries. The SDFP also broadens the coverage of public debt to include domestic borrowing, which played a significant role in the rapid rise in debt stress over the past decade. Beyond broadening scope, the SDFP provides a new mechanism for dealing with the drivers of debt stress. As part of one of the policy's pillars --the Debt Sustainability Enhancement Program (DSEP) -- at risk IDA-eligible countries are required to implement performance and policy actions, known as PPAs, to correct factors contributing to debt distress risks.   In one critical aspect, however, the policy has not heeded the warning from Hemmingway’s famous character of how quickly things can go from bad to worse. The screening process the SDFP uses for excluding countries from undertaking PPAs – based on being assessed at "low risk" according to the World Bank–IMF Debt Sustainability Framework, or DSF – potentially excludes countries with significant underlying vulnerabilities. With evidence that the transition to debt stress occurs more sudden than gradual, a review of the criteria for excluding countries from PPAs is warranted. As they are at the core of the policy, for the SDFP to be successful, it is also essential that the PPAs are actually relevant – that they address the underlying country-specific drivers of debt stress. IEG undertook case studies to assess PPA relevance over the first year, and from those found that about two thirds of PPAs responded to the main sources of debt stress in their respective country. The remaining third did not. For example, non-concessional borrowing ceilings were included as PPAs across the board for high-risk countries, even where ceilings already existed or where non-concessional borrowing did not contribute to the country's rising risk of debt distress. Much like the old policy, the new one also focuses on creditors as well as debtors. The Program of Creditor Outreach (PCO), the second pillar of the SDFP, aims to use the World Bank's role as convener to promote information sharing and collective action at the creditor level, including with nontraditional creditors, to reduce debt related risks to IDA-eligible countries. While the PCO represents a well-intentioned effort to engage the broader community of creditors, a review of the NCBP found that previous efforts at creditor coordination by the World Bank have had a positive but limited impact on lending decisions, and little was achieved with respect to coordination with non–Paris Club and private creditors. It is too early to assess whether the PCO will incentivize creditor coordination, but a fundamental question from past experience is whether the World Bank is best placed, on its own, to convene non-Paris Club and private creditors, both of which are key to tackling mounting debt stress.  The debt build-up over the decade highlighted clear deficiencies in the previous policy meant to ensure debt sustainability among IDA-eligible countries. The SDFP is a positive step toward shifting the trajectory of debt distress risks downwards. At the same time, IEG’s early-stage evaluation finds there is scope for improvement and provides a number of recommendations for increasing the effectiveness of the new policy. Read: IDA's Sustainable Development Finance Policy - An Early-Stage Evaluation

The International Development Association's Sustainable Development Finance Policy

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This evaluation provides an early-stage assessment of IDA's Sustainable Development Finance Policy (SDFP), which went into effect July 1, 2020. This evaluation provides an early-stage assessment of IDA's Sustainable Development Finance Policy (SDFP), which went into effect July 1, 2020.