World Bank report underscores importance of strong fiscal foundation
Mongolia’s capital expenditure has been among the highest in the world in 2010-2016
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According to the World Bank’s report on public expenditure, Mongolia’s over-expanded budget policy altered fiscal discipline. Therefore, the World Bank highlights the need for adequate fiscal resources by accumulating savings during economic growth.
“With high public debt, low tax rates and high exemptions, the Mongolian economy remains extremely vulnerable to external factors, including shifts in global demand, commodity prices, and exchange rate and interest rate shocks. There is a clear need to strengthen fiscal buffers through increased savings during years of prosperity,” said Andrei Mikhnev, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia.
At an average of about 11 percent of GDP in 2010-2016, Mongolia’s capital expenditure has been among the highest in the world. However, the returns of this spending have been low due to poor project selection, long delays in implementation, high-cost overruns, and low maintenance budgets.
“The report lays out key actions the country can take to enhance the efficiency of public investment. Development and implementation of a national road map to improve the efficiency of these investments is the top priority,” said Jean-Pascal Nganou, Senior Country Economist and a lead author of the report.
Given Mongolia’s highly volatile revenue performance, the report also recommends reducing the dependence of government revenue on the mineral sector by embarking on a gradual reform of the tax system. This includes measures to increase low statutory tax rates, revise the number and size of tax exemptions, and broaden the tax base. The report illustrates that VAT and excise taxes in Mongolia are regressive in nature as their burden is larger among the poor than among the non-poor.
It also highlights special spending needs in health and education – key sectors that play an essential role in the country’s long-term development and the fight against poverty.
The report highlights the urgent need to strengthen the pension system to meet the needs of Mongolia’s aging population. The government set the target for a maximum state subsidy for pensions of 2 percent of GDP by 2030. However, due to measures allowing many workers to purchase a pension for life at retirement age at a fraction of the cost that other workers have paid during their work lives, reducing herders’ retirement ages, and others, the current subsidy of 2 percent of GDP is projected to rise to 6 percent in 2030 and 11 percent in 2050 unless reforms are undertaken.