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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-05-20) World BankLatin America and the Caribbean (LAC) reported over 30 million Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and around 960,000 deaths as of May 2021. Official tracking data shows that Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina have the highest number of reported cases throughout LAC, which in turn is the region with among the highest numbers across all developing regions. Moreover, Brazil is the third-worst affected country worldwide, after the United States and India, with approximately 15.4 million infections. Dramatic declines in economic activity are expected throughout the LAC region due to the global pandemic. Unfortunately, many LAC countries entered the crisis with low potential economic growth and high levels of inequality, following the region’s recent period of stagnant growth. The 2020 COVID-19 crisis will likely reverse in a short time frame many of the social gains that took decades to materialize in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the past two decades, the region has seen a reduction in the number of people living in poverty by nearly half and an increase in the size of its middle class. Income inequality also decreased, as income growth has been primarily pro-poor in recent years. Despite variations across countries, most have experienced positive welfare gains since the early 2000s. However, the growth deceleration of 2014–2019 coupled with the dramatic fall in activity caused by the COVID-19 crisis will negatively impact living standards and well-being across the region. Poverty projections for 2020 suggest that the number of the poor increased in most LAC countries. Brazil, however, implemented a generous emergency transfer program that benefited almost 67 million people and lifted millions out of poverty. As a result, poverty in the LAC region is expected to decline marginally from 22 percent in 2019 to 21.8 percent in 2020. Had no mitigation measures been implemented, the region may instead have seen 28 million new poor in 2020.
The Distributional Consequences of Increasing Tobacco Taxes on Colombia’s Health and Finances: An Extended Cost-Effectiveness Analysis(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017) James, Erin ; Saxena, Akshar ; Franco Restrepo, Camila ; Llorente, Blanca ; Vecino Ortiz, Andrés ; Villar Uribe, Manuela ; Iunes, Roberto F. ; Verguet, StéphaneSince 2008, when Colombia ratified the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, available evidence of the impact of tobacco consumption, its health effects, and low tax revenues resulting from low tobacco taxation and prices had grown. By 2015, Colombia’s cigarette prices stood higher than only one other country in the region, and smoking had become the second leading modifiable risk factor for premature mortality. At that time, reduced fiscal revenues resulting from a sharp drop in oil prices, accompanied by growing demand for government spending arising partly from a change in legislation that increased health benefits for the lower socioeconomic population, led to a call for tax reform. The preparation of the document was accompanied by technical training, studies, and public fora with national and international experts, civil society, and academia presenting evidences and arguing for increased taxation to lead to a reduction in tobacco consumption and, in the future, a reduction in costs to the health system. The fora and open dialogue helped align strategies of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, and the Ministry of Finance in presenting the reform to Congress for approval with a larger academic and civil society support for this measure. In December 2016, resulting from the above-mentioned efforts, Colombia passed a major tax increase on tobacco products with the goal of decreasing smoking and improving population health. While tobacco taxes are known to be highly effective in reducing the prevalence of smoking, they are often criticized as being regressive in consumption. This analysis attempts to assess the distributional impact (across income quintiles) of the new tax on selected health and financial outcomes.
Brazil - Poverty Reduction, Growth, and Fiscal Stability in the State of Ceara : A State Economic Memorandum, Volume 2. Annexes(Washington, DC, 2000-08-21) World BankAlthough the State of Ceara, in Brazil, is a model of good economic, and fiscal performance given its poverty status, recent analysis show poverty remains severe, in spite of significant reductions over the last decade. The combination of good governance, and sound fiscal management, industrial promotion, and public investments have been successful, but the report questions whether different policies, could have led to higher growth, and poverty reduction, or, whether it is simply a matter of time to further reduce poverty rates. Arguably, Ceara can continue to develop economically, based on favorable assets, such as agriculture, or tourism, on a large labor force with wages comparatively low by Brazilian standards, and on fiscal responsibility. But development is constrained by low productivity, low education levels, and by large populations living in stagnant regions, where water accessibility is limited. While alternatives either suggest to: strengthen the existing policy on industry development; focus on massive public investments, namely education, and infrastructure; or, exercise an explicit welfare strategy, recommendations stipulate improvements in education, development of public-private partnerships, removal of industrial incentives through reform policies, implementation of institutional framework for water resource management, and, overall social safety nets to reduce poverty.