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Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-10-03)At just under 6 percent, South Asia is expected to grow faster than any other emerging market and developing economy (EMDE) region in 2024–25. However, for all countries, this will represent a slowdown from pre-pandemic averages. Several potential adverse events could derail this outlook, including risks related to fragile fiscal positions. Government debt in South Asia averaged 86 percent of GDP in 2022, above that of any other EMDE region. In some countries, outright defaults have short-circuited growth while, in others, increasing domestic borrowing by governments has driven up interest rates and diverted credit away from the private sector. Elections could add to spending pressures. An urgent policy priority for the region is, therefore, to manage and reduce fiscal risks. Over the longer term, the policy priority is to accelerate growth and job creation in a sustainable manner. The energy transition, away from fossil fuels toward sustainable sources of energy, presents an opportunity for the region to lift productivity, cut pollution, reduce its reliance on fuel imports, and create jobs. South Asia uses twice as much energy to produce each unit of output as the global average and the region lags in the adoption of advanced energy-efficient technologies. Even fiscally constrained governments can take action to support the energy transition with market-based regulations, information campaigns, broader access to finance, and reliable public power grids. With about 9 percent of the region’s workers employed in pollution-intensive activities, and these workers less educated and more often informally employed than the average worker, the energy transition will create challenging labor market shifts. This calls for measures to boost job creation and facilitate worker mobility, geographically and across sectors.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-09-29)The economy has maintained its strong growth momentum, with the expansion in tourism, and poverty is expected to fall further in 2023. The number of tourist arrivals grew by 14 percent (y-o-y) to 1.25 million by early September 2023, reaching a historic high compared to similar periods in other years (Figure ES.1). Despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine, arrivals from Russia remained strong. An earlier-than-expected reopening of the Chinese market, on January 18, has compensated for lower arrivals from India and Gulf countries, while arrivals from Europe continued to increase. As a result, the Maldivian economy grew by 5.5 percent (y-o-y) in the first quarter of 2023. Poverty levels also fell with the strong economic rebound, to an estimated level of 1.5 percent of the population. High inequality in the country, especially in the outer atolls, remains a real concern.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-09-28)The Government Analytics Handbook presents frontier evidence and practitioner insights on how to leverage data to strengthen public administration. Covering a range of microdata sources—such as administrative data and public servant surveys—as well as tools and resources for undertaking the analytics, it transforms the ability of governments to take a data-informed approach to diagnose and improve how public organizations work. Readers can order the book as a single volume in print or digital formats, or visit: worldbank.org/governmentanalytics, for modular access and additional hands-on tools. The Handbook is a must-have for practitioners, policy makers, academics, and government agencies.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-09-28)This annual report, which covers the period from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, has been prepared by the Executive Directors of both the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA)—collectively known as the World Bank—in accordance with the respective bylaws of the two institutions. Ajay Banga, President of the World Bank Group and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, has submitted this report, together with the accompanying administrative budgets and audited financial statements, to the Board of Governors.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-09-28)Capabilities to track fast-moving economic developments re-main limited in many regions of the developing world. This complicates prioritizing policies aimed at supporting vulnerable populations. To gain insight into the evolution of fluid events in a data scarce context, this paper explores the ability of recent machine-learning advances to produce continuous data in near-real-time by imputing multiple entries in ongoing surveys. The paper attempts to track inflation in fresh produce prices at the local market level in Papua New Guinea, relying only on incomplete and intermittent survey data. This application is made challenging by high intra-month price volatility, low cross-market price correlations, and weak price trends. The modeling approach uses chained equations to produce an ensemble prediction for multiple price quotes simultaneously. The paper runs cross-validation of the prediction strategy under different designs in terms of markets, foods, and time periods covered. The results show that when the survey is well-designed, imputations can achieve accuracy that is attractive when compared to costly–and logistically often infeasible–direct measurement. The methods have wider applicability and could help to fill crucial data gaps in data scarce regions such as the Pacific Islands, especially in conjunction with specifically designed continuous surveys.