Western Balkans Regular Economic Report, No. 20, Fall 2021: Greening the Recovery

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Fiscal balances have started to improve as a result of a stronger economic performance, but it will take further effort to replenish buffers. The growth recovery is contributing to buoyant revenue collection across the region, particularly in value-added tax collections, as domestic consumption strengthens. Similarly, a leveling off of public spending in 2021 after the countercyclical surge of 2020 is helping on the expenditure side. As a result, all countries except Bosnia and Herzegovina expect to see a narrower fiscal deficit in 2021, with the average deficit reduced by 2.7 percent of GDP year-on-year. However, the deficits across all economies of the Western Balkans are still above pre-pandemic trends, and the legacy of the pandemic is a stock of public debt that has now reached historic highs in all countries except Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. As the recovery from COVID-19 takes hold, greater efforts will be needed to mobilize and diversify sources of revenue and to streamline expenditure programs, which in turn would help address fiscal vulnerabilities that have arisen during the crisis. In line with global conditions, inflationary pressures in the Western Balkans are on an upward trajectory. Average inflation is projected to reach 2.3 percent in 2021 from 0.9 percent in 2020. On the external side, strengthening demand in advanced economies is driving commodity prices upward and putting pressure on COVID-19-strained logistics networks and global value chains. Similarly, the faster-than-expected recovery in domestic consumption across the region has placed upward pressure on domestic costs, particularly in labor markets during the summer tourism season.
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World Bank. 2021. Western Balkans Regular Economic Report, No. 20, Fall 2021: Greening the Recovery. Western Balkans Regular Economic Report, 20. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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