IMF Notes


October 30, 2023

Digital Interventions in the Health Sector: Country Cases and Policy Discussions

Description: This note discusses, through selected country case studies, how digital health records and telemedicine can improve delivery quality, access to underserved populations, and resource utilization in healthcare. In addition, it shows how digital disease surveillance tools can identify outbreaks and track the spread of diseases, while novel digital platforms can facilitate patent licensing and international pooled procurements for better drug access in developing countries. Ensuring safe and well-regulated collection and use of healthcare data, as well as facilitating standardization and interoperability of digital infrastructure in different sectors is critical for the success of these interventions.

September 7, 2023

Fiscal Revenue Mobilization and Digitally Traded Products: Taxing at the Border or Behind It?

Description: Digitalization has the potential to bring great economic benefits, but it is also creating new challenges. This note focuses on trade in digitized products, its fiscal revenue implications, and the appropriate role for domestic and border tax instruments in this context. As digitized trade increases, in part replacing physical trade, developing countries that rely on tariff revenue to support fiscal capacity will face the difficult question of how best to tax these new trade flows and maintain fiscal balances. This note shows that, independently of the future trajectory of trade in digitized products, broad-based nondiscriminatory value-added taxes are preferrable to tariffs both from an economic efficiency and from a revenue standpoint. These taxes are also easier to implement and administer. In this context, the World Trade Organization (WTO) moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission can help to effectively channel developing countries’ tax reform efforts in a more efficient direction. This transition would require further investment by the global community in modernizing the tax and customs infrastructure of developing countries to adequately meet revenue needs in the digital era.

July 21, 2023

The Political Economy of GovTech

Description: The digitalization of public services, known as GovTech, can disrupt traditional mechanisms to promote economic development (for example, financial inclusion, education, and health care), improve the delivery of public services, and expedite development objectives. For GovTech to be successful in enhancing the public sector's efficiency, transparency, and inclusiveness, its design and implementation require that private interests be aligned with the overarching goal of a “citizen-oriented” digitalization. Because the interests of the state and private providers are often antagonistic, the social dividends from GovTech remain contingent on implementing the appropriate market structure through adequate property rights and regulatory oversight.

April 12, 2023

Global Food Crisis Update: Recent Developments, Outlook, and IMF Engagement

Description: The global food crisis remains a major challenge. Food insecurity fueled by widely experienced increases in the cost of living has become a growing concern especially in low-income countries, even if price pressures on global food markets have softened somewhat since the onset of Russia’s war in Ukraine in February 2022. Targeted assistance to the most vulnerable households combined with policy measures to support trade and agriculture systems, including to better cope with climate shocks, can help countries withstand the fallout of the ongoing food crisis while building longer-term resilience. The IMF, working in close cooperation with other international organizations, has continued to contribute to international efforts to alleviate food insecurity by providing policy advice, capacity development, and financial support through Upper Credit Tranche Arrangements and the new Food Shock Window. New commitments to countries particularly affected by the global food crisis total $13.2 billion since February 2022, of which $3.7 billion has been disbursed as of March 2023.

Notes: Fall 2023 Global Food Crisis Update —Recent Developments, Outlook, and IMF Engagement

March 31, 2023

Internet Adoption Trends during COVID-19

Description: This paper examines the common perception that internet adoption accelerated globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. The data show little evidence of a faster expansion of access to internet (extensive margin) across all country income groups but strong evidence of acceleration in the improvement in the quality of connectivity (intensive margin). The data also support that, despite a decline in internet prices over the past decade, affordability of digital services remains a concern for low-income developing countries.


September 29, 2022

Tackling the Global Food Crisis: Impact, Policy Response, and the Role of the IMF

Description: Russia’s war in Ukraine has exacerbated food insecurity that had already been on the rise for half a decade. Low-income countries are affected the most. This note suggests that the food and fertilizer price shock would add $9 billion in 2022 and 2023 to the import bills of the 48 most affected countries. The budgetary cost of protecting vulnerable households in these countries amounts to $5–7 billion. Strong and timely action on a global scale is needed to support vulnerable households through international humanitarian assistance and domestic fiscal measures; to maintain open trade; to enhance food production and distribution; and to invest in climate-resilient agriculture. The IMF has been stepping up its engagement to help tackle the global food crisis, working closely with partners, by providing policy advice, capacity building and financing. IMF financing is a third line of defense in meeting external financing needs associated with the global food shock, which should ideally be covered by donor grants and concessional borrowing from MDBs. A new food shock window under the emergency financing instruments is expected to be approved soon to further strengthen its lending response to the food crisis.

September 8, 2022

Policies to Address the Refugee Crisis in Europe Related to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Description: Refugees from Ukraine face multiple vulnerabilities, with many requiring humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, host countries in Europe and beyond have adopted measures to support refugees, including residency rights, free movement across countries, access to labor markets and integration policies, health and education services, housing options, banking services, and social protection systems. Drawing on previous IMF work on the economic challenges of refugees, this note provides an overview of policy responses needed to provide effective support to refugees fleeing Ukraine.

August 30, 2022

Taxing Windfall Profits in the Energy Sector

Description: The surge in fossil fuel prices in 2022 has generated substantial windfall profits in the energy sector. Policymakers in many countries are exploring policies to tax part of these profits. Excess profits can be taxed by tax instruments targeted at economic rents that avoid discouraging investment and limit any impact on further price increases. Many fossil fuel producing countries already have an adequate rent-capturing fiscal instrument in place. Others may consider introducing a permanent tax on windfall profits from fossil fuel extraction but should be more cautious about temporary and possibly poorly designed windfall profit taxes. Given the importance of encouraging decarbonatization of energy generation, it seems counter-intuitive to introduce exceptional tax measures on renewable electricity generation.

June 7, 2022

Fiscal Policy for Mitigating the Social Impact of High Energy and Food Prices

Description: Fiscal policy has a crucial role in lessening the impact on the most vulnerable households. Governments must balance by ensuring access to energy and food, normalizing fiscal policy after unprecedented support in 2020, and promoting green transformation.