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Distributional Impacts of Brazil’s Tax Reform: scenarios regarding Cesta Básica exemption

2023-10-31, Vale, Ricardo, Lara Ibarra, Gabriel, Fleury, Eduardo, Trzcinski, Kajetan

A 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.

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Opportunities for All: Brazil Policy Notes 2022

2022-12, World Bank

This package of Public Policy Notes is directed to Brazilian policy makers and society to present the World Bank Group’s overview of key challenges facing the country at this juncture, and possible ways forward to address them. We present an agenda prioritized around four issues of core relevance to Brazil’s recovery and its future resilience. First is the goal of financing development sustainably given the immediate challenge of situating the country’s enormous growth, inclusion and climate action needs within a credible macroeconomic framework and efficient and effective fiscal policies. The second theme addressed in this note is building opportunities through productivity-led growth. With the growing reliance of Brazilians on social assistance policies, it is critical to keep sight of growth and jobs as the most important vehicles for the dignity and upward mobility of the poor. Third is increasing the capabilities and economic inclusion of the poor so that they are better able to capture the opportunities that come with growth. Thefourth theme we address in this note is meeting Brazil’s potential as a as a leader in green and climate friendly development. This document is accompanied by a package of six policy presentations and an underlying set of more detailed policy reports that can be accesses here: https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/brazil.

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The World Bank Annual Report 2022: Helping Countries Adapt to a Changing World

2022, World Bank

The Annual Report is prepared by the Executive Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA)--collectively known as the World Bank--in accordance with the by-laws of the two institutions. The President of the IBRD and IDA and the Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors submit the Report, together with the accompanying administrative budgets and audited financial statements, to the Board of Governors.

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Recovering Growth: Rebuilding Dynamic Post‐COVID-19 Economies amid Fiscal Constraints

2021-10-06, World Bank

After its worst economic crisis in 100 years, Latin America and the Caribbean countries are emerging from the COVID‐19 pandemic. The need to recover dynamic, inclusive, and sustainable growth to redress both the legacy of the pandemic and long‐standing social needs has never been more acute. However, despite progress in some areas, the region is facing a weaker recovery than expected given the favorable international tailwinds and is likely return to the low growth rates of the 2010s. Moreover, growth could be further slowed by both internal and external factors: the emergence of a new variant of the virus, a rise in international interest rates to combat global inflation, and high levels of debt in both the private and public sector. Beyond offering the current macroeconomic outlook of the region and the near‐term challenges it faces, this report explores three broad areas where growth‐advancing policies and reforms could be undertaken within a constrained fiscal context: mobilizing sources of revenue that appear to be growth-neutral; improving public spending efficiency to free up resources for other purposes; and reallocating spending to areas with highest growth and social impact.

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Latin America and the Caribbean Economic Review, October 2023 - Wired: Digital Connectivity for Inclusion and Growth

2023-10-04, Zambrano Riveros, Jorge Andres, Beylis, Guillermo, Maloney, William, Vuletin, Guillermo

Latin America and the Caribbean continues to face adverse global headwinds: high interest rates, modest G-7 growth, soft commodity prices and uncertain prospects in China will all depress growth. Well-grounded policy responses have led to largely recovering employment and income losses from the pandemic and falling rates of inflation. However, the region faces the mutually reinforcing triple challenges of low growth, limited fiscal space, and citizen dissatisfaction. Expanding digital connectivity offers a possibility to make progress on all three fronts. To maximize the social benefits of connectivity as well as to ensure that it does not exacerbate spatial, educational, gender or racial inequalities, three challenges are important to address: first, expanding coverage to the remaining unconnected areas as well as improving the quality of service; second, increasing the productive use of existing infrastructure, and; third, as with any other infrastructure "hardware," investments in "software" - such as digital and traditional skills, managerial capabilities, supportive regulatory frameworks, and deeper financial markets are critical.

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New Approaches to Closing the Fiscal Gap

2022-10-04, World Bank

As the COVID‐19 crisis recedes, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is back to work and looking forward. Reported deaths related to the pandemic are low and have plausibly converged to global levels. Yet low vaccination rates in some countries leave them vulnerable to new variants. In most countries, gross domestic product (GDP) and employment have fully recovered their 2019 levels, although forecasted growth rates might be said to be “resiliently mediocre”: banking systems appear sound, and rising debt burdens are manageable so far, but growth is not expected to exceed the low levels of the 2010 decade. Poverty in terms of income (monetary poverty) has largely receded with the economic recovery, but the longer‐term scars of the pandemic in terms of education and health have planted deep seeds of future inequality. Redressing these problems and undertaking the structural reforms needed to reach higher levels of growth and reduce poverty remain central on the policy agenda. The new and unwelcome entrant in the policy space is inflation. While comparable to advanced country levels and well managed by regional monetary authorities, inflation nonetheless is being propelled by forces that may give it more staying power than originally hoped. Finally, public deficits induced by the pandemic and the need to finance critical government programs and directions have opened a fiscal gap and led to constrained fiscal space. The need to close the fiscal gap, put debt on a sustainable footing, and generate fiscal space to finance necessary physical and social investments has led to a search for new revenues and in particular to pressure to increase income taxes. In looking at any tax hike, concerns center on the possible depressive effects on growth, overall progressivity, and possible incentives for informality. This report presents new evidence on these effects for value added taxes (VAT) and income taxes. It also advocates for steps to cut wasteful government spending and increase government efficiency - both to generate substantial resources and as an entry point to a broader agenda of state modernization and generating public trust.

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A Roadmap for Climate Action in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2021-2025

2022, World Bank Group

In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) the rapidly changing climate is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather‑related events. The year 2020 saw the most catastrophic fire season over the Pantanal region and a record number of storms during the Atlantic cyclone season. Eta and Iota, two category 4 hurricanes, affected more than 8 million people in Central America, causing tens of billions of dollars in damage. In Honduras, annual average losses due to climate‑related shocks are estimated at 2.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). In rankings of the impacts of extreme weather events from 2000 to 2019, five Caribbean nations figure among the top 20 globally in terms of fatalities per capita, while in terms of economic losses as a share of GDP eight of the top 20 countries are in the Caribbean. Extreme precipitation events, which result in floods and landslides, are projected to intensify in magnitude and frequency due to climate change, with a 1.5°C increase in mean global temperature projected to result in an increase of up to 200 percent in the population affected by floods in Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina; 300 percent in Ecuador; and 400 percent in Peru. Climate shocks reduce the income of the poorest 40 percent by more than double the average of the LAC population and could push an estimated 2.4–5.8 million people in the region into extreme poverty by 2030.

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The Value of Data: An Estimate of the Cost of (Not) Updating Brazil’s Consumer Price Index

2023-09-01, Vale, Ricardo, Conceicao, Otavio, Lara Ibarra, Gabriel

Consumer price indices are central to monitoring, guiding, and defining a country's economic development path. By capturing how prices change over time, consumer price indices provide a measure of the evolution of the cost of living for households. The impact of price indices on the economy is very broad, affecting everything from the adjustment of pensions to the monetary policy of the Central Bank, from cash transfer programs to private sector contracts. The measurement of inflation has, therefore, real consequences for the country's evolution. In this note, authors study the Brazilian case and focus on the potential fiscal implications of the unavailability of a household budget survey in a timely manner. The note presents two hypothetical exercises that vary the timing at which the national statistical office incorporates updated information from a household budget survey into the CPI. Varying the timing of adoption of the expenditure information allows to create a counterfactual price index that can be compared to the true CPI at different points in time. Finally, using the actual and counterfactual CPI we answer the following question: what would have been the government expenditures should the CPI update have been delayed The note focuses on expenditures on pensions (aposentadorias) due to data availability. Recognizing that there are many other government policies that depend on inflation estimates, the estimates presented can be interpreted as a lower bound of the effect of interest.

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World Development Report 2022: Finance for an Equitable Recovery

2022-02-15, World Bank

World Development Report 2022: Finance for an Equitable Recovery examines the central role of finance in the economic recovery from COVID-19. Based on an in-depth look at the consequences of the crisis most likely to affect low- and middle-income economies, it advocates a set of policies and measures to mitigate the interconnected economic risks stemming from the pandemic—risks that may become more acute as stimulus measures are withdrawn at both the domestic and global levels. Those policies include the efficient and transparent management of nonperforming loans to mitigate threats to financial stability, insolvency reforms to allow for the orderly reduction of unsustainable debts, innovations in risk management and lending models to ensure continued access to credit for households and businesses, and improvements in sovereign debt management to preserve the ability of governments to support an equitable recovery.

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The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery

2021-12-10, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank

Even before Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hit, the world was already experiencing a learning crisis. 258 million primary- and secondary-school age children and youth were out of school. Many children who were in school were learning very little: 53 percent of all ten-year-old children in low- and middle-income countries were experiencing learning poverty, meaning that they were unable to read and understand a simple age-appropriate text at age 10. This report spotlights how COVID-19 has deepened the education crisis and charts a course for creating more resilient education systems for the future. Section one gives introduction. Section two documents COVID-19’s impacts on learning levels by presenting updated simulations and bringing together the latest documented evidence on learning loss from over 28 countries. Section three explores how the crisis has widened inequality and had greater impacts on already disadvantaged children and youth. Section four reviews evidence on learning recovery from past crises and highlights current policy responses that appear most likely to have succeeded in stemming learning losses, while recognizing that the evidence is still in a nascent stage. The final section discusses how to build on the investments made and the lessons learned during the pandemic to accelerate learning recovery and emerge from the crisis with increased education quality, resilience, and equity in the longer term.