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PublicationSugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes: Rationale, Evidence and Design for Improving Health(Washington DC: World Bank, 2024-02-21) World BankThe purpose of this note is to provide an updated overview of 1) the rationale for implementing sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes, 2) the impact of SSB taxes on prices, the demand for SSBs and substitutes, and economic outcomes, and 3) tax design, revenue, and tax administration considerations. A summary of policy considerations is also provided to aid in decision-making. PublicationPhilippines Monthly Economic Developments, January 2024(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-02-13) World BankThe economy expanded by 5.6 percent year-on-year in Q4 2023 as robust private consumption continued to fuel growth, while the recovery of tourism buoyed the expansion of services. The cumulative fiscal deficit declined in November 2023, while low external demand dampened goods exports, which weighed on manufacturing output growth. The unemployment rate fell to a 15-year low in November, supported by strong domestic demand during the holidays, yet job quality remains a concern. PublicationMonitoring Impacts of COVID-19 and other Shocks, Round 13, Jul-Aug 2023(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2024-01-23) Atamanov, Aziz; Ilukor, John; Kemigisha, Audrey; Machingauta, Catherine; Mupere, Andrew; Ponzini, GuiliaIn June 2020, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, with the support from the World Bank, has launched the High-Frequency Phone Survey on COVID-19 to track the impacts of the pandemic on a monthly basis for a period of 12 months. In June 2022, the scope of the survey was expanded to monitor economic sentiments and the socioeconomic impact of other shocks such as the Russia-Ukraine war and extreme weather events. The survey aimed to recontact the entire sample of households that had been interviewed during the Uganda National Panel Survey 2019/20 round and that had phone numbers for at least one household member or a reference individual. This set of tables presents findings from the most recent round (12th) of the UHFPS, conducted in July - August 2023. PublicationThailand Monthly Economic Monitor: 17 January 2024(Washington, DC, 2024-01-22) World BankThe economy sustained its gradual recovery, buoyed by strong private consumption and improving goods exports but hampered by contracting manufacturing production. The economy is projected to grow 2.5 percent in 2023 and accelerate to 3.2 percent in 2024. Inflation remained negative for the third consecutive month and stayed well below peers, primarily due to falling energy and food prices as well as energy subsidies. The marginal increase in the minimum wage for 2024 is unlikely to exert significant pressure on inflation. The planned fiscal stimulus measures are expected to provide a short-term boost to growth but will delay fiscal consolidation. In December, the Thai baht appreciated against major trading partners, although net foreign portfolio outflows were the largest in three months. PublicationUsing Disaster Risk Financing to Build Adaptive Social Protection for Climate Shocks in Malawi: Social Support for Resilient Livelihoods(Washington, DC, 2023-12-04) World BankThe Government of Malawi put in place a mechanism that enables its flagship unconditional cash transfer program—the Social Cash Transfer Program (SCTP)—to scale up response to additional beneficiaries when shocks occur. Making the SCTP shock-responsive is a key strategic pillar of the government’s Disaster Risk Financing Strategy. The SCTP scalable mechanism was first implemented during the 2021/22 rainfall season in three initially selected districts (Blantyre, Ntcheu, and Thyolo). It covered 74,000 poor and vulnerable households that would be eligible to receive a cash transfer in the event of a shock, and in fact a drought and compounding shocks resulted in a payout for the households. In 2022/23, the mechanism was expanded to cover over 100,000 households in six districts; the long-term goal is to make it a nationwide mechanism. This note summarizes the gpvernment’s process for establishing this mechanism and presents key results and lessons learned. PublicationCase Studies of Successful Reforms to Address the Challenges of Financing Education Systems Effectively: Increasing the Adequacy of Education Finance through Private Sector Resource Mobilization - The Case of Côte d’Ivoire(Washington, DC, 2023-11-20) World BankMany low, and middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa face an education financing crisis. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, rapid improvements in access place severe pressure on the adequacy of public education expenditure, with average per-student public expenditure in the region being less than one-tenth that in Europe and Central Asia (World Bank, 2022). Some countries have successfully mobilized private sector finance to support education beyond the financing provided by government. These efforts have been particularly common in technical and vocational education and training (TVET), where countries including Tanzania and Zambia have introduced skills levies on businesses, which are channeled into dedicated funds to support TVET. However, such efforts are much rarer in basic education, which typically relies on conventional taxation, public debt, and development assistance for funding. This case study presents the example of Côte d’Ivoire, where a partnership between the government, private foundations, and the cocoa industry has mobilized significant amounts of finance to support the provision of basic education in cocoa-growing communities. PublicationPiloting a Machine Learning-Based Job-Matching Algorithm: Summary of Results from Pomerania(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-20) Honorati, Maddalena; Gajderowicz, TomaszThe objective of this note is to present and discuss the findings of piloting a task-based job matching tool developed by the World Bank and implemented in partnership with the Regional Labor Office of Pomerania, Poland. The aim of the pilot was to assess whether simple ML-based tools could contribute to improve the efficiency of PES delivery and job-seeking behaviors compared to rule-based, knowledge-driven approaches. By combining labor demand data from local occupational barometers and the descriptions of tasks in the national taxonomy of occupations, the tool provides jobseekers a menu of potential jobs available in the local labor markets that match the tasks performed in previous work experiences. Results show that jobseekers were satisfied with the proposed occupations resulting from the tool (as beyond their thinking) and had the intention to expand job search efforts, though job-seeking behaviors could not be monitored. Career advisers recognized that the lack of information on jobseekers’ education, skills, and preferences limited the efficiency of the proposed job matches. PublicationThailand Monthly Economic Monitor: 27 October, 2023(Washington, DC, 2023-11-13) World BankThe economy continued its moderate expansion, driven by private consumption and improving goods exports. However, the tourism recovery decelerated. Inflation remained significantly below peers; raw food prices fell and energy subsidies contained pressure on living costs. The planned fiscal stimulus measures will provide a short-term boost to growth but delay ongoing fiscal consolidation. The Bank of Thailand unexpectedly raised its policy rate to 2.50 percent. In September, the Thai baht depreciated against major trading partners. PublicationDistributional Impacts of Brazil’s Tax Reform: scenarios regarding Cesta Básica exemption(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-10-31) Vale, Ricardo; Lara Ibarra, Gabriel; Fleury, Eduardo; Trzcinski, KajetanA consumption tax reform in Brazil has been recently approved by the House of Representatives, providing a full tax exemption for the yet undefined ‘National Basic Basket’ of goods (cesta basica nacional), alongside a cashback scheme that is yet to be determined. This note simulates the distributional impacts of different fiscally neutral scenarios of reduced rates and exemptions. The authors show that the exemption of taxes for food and personal care goods (such as those suggested by Law 10,925) would benefit the most vulnerable. Nonetheless, overall expenditures on certain items that are being considered for inclusion in the cesta are relatively concentrated on households in the top decile of the income distribution. Thus, a blanket exemption on Cesta Basica items may benefit the richest more in absolute terms. If the list of items in the exempted Cesta Basica is shortened and the equivalent resources of the potential forgone revenues are returned into a targeted cashback scheme, a far less regressive indirect tax system could be achieved. PublicationVietnam Macro Monitoring(Washington, DC, 2023-10-31) World BankThis brief discusses the economic development of Vietnam for September 2023. While economic growth picked up in Q3-2023 thanks to a gradual recovery of the exports, domestic consumption remained subdued and credit growth continued to be slow reflecting weak private domestic investment and investors’ confidence. A sharp upward trend in headline inflation continues to warrant close watch. Continued efforts to implement public investment could support aggregate demand and economic growth in the short run. A strategic and well-prepared investment pipeline for 2024 and the next Medium-Term Investment Plan (MTIP) with a focus on green, resilient, and regional infrastructure will help bolster long term economic development. Further improving the business environment and stepping up investment in human capital would help the country: attract high-tech and high-value-addition FDI and boost productivity in the long run.