Key policy responses from the OECD

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20/10/2021
In 2020, the agriculture and food sector experienced significant supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 crisis and associated lockdown measures. Yet relatively limited economic impacts were observed on the sector due to the agility of producers, supply chain actors and retailers, but also to the rapid and broad response by governments. Close to 800 measures were undertaken by governments in 54 developed and emerging countries, aimed to avoid aggravating disruptions, absorb supply and demand shocks, provide relief to affected producers and consumers, or to bolster the recovery of affected production activities. At least USD 157 billion was earmarked to the agriculture sector to support these measures, with a large part going to food assistance. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this sector subsides, policy makers will need to pivot and shift spending to investments that can enhance sector-wide resilience.
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14/10/2021
Regulation is one of the key tools governments can use to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and move towards recovery. While the pandemic underscores the need for well-designed, evidence-based regulatory policies, the extraordinary pressures it imposed often forced governments to shorten procedures and launch new forms of co-ordination to urgently pass regulatory measures. This can make regulatory policy making more challenging, but also provides opportunities to innovate. This policy brief analyses how Southeast Asian (SEA) countries approached these challenges and opportunities, and shares lessons learned and practices among the SEA and OECD communities.
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14/10/2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant deterioration in public finances, adding to pre-existing strains from long-term structural challenges including population ageing, climate change, rising inequality, digitalisation and automation. This report, originally prepared for G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors at the request of the Italian G20 Presidency, considers the challenges and opportunities of developing public fiscal policy strategies as countries seek to “build back better”. The report focuses in particular on how tax policy can be designed comprehensively so that fiscal systems can deliver a balance of equity, growth and sustainability, highlighting some of the key considerations that policymakers should take into account to ensure optimal tax policy design and the successful implementation of tax reform.
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08/10/2021
The COVID-19 pandemic risks widening further the divide in labour market outcomes for the most vulnerable groups who face numerous employment obstacles, such as limited work experience, care obligations, low skills or health limitations. Not all these groups show up on the radar of public employment services (PES), which is why it is important to identify the groups at risk and their needs, develop effective outreach strategies, and provide integrated, comprehensive and well-targeted support. This in turn requires a good exchange of information and co-operation between the relevant institutions responsible for the provision of employment, health, education and social services, as well as income support.
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30/09/2021
Since the last update in April 2021, recovery measures with positive impacts on the environment have increased significantly, both in terms of number and budget. However spending on environmentally positive measures still represents only 21% of total COVID-19 recovery spending (up from 17%) with environmentally negative and mixed measures accounting for 10%. Furthermore, ongoing annual support to fossil fuels will likely surpass all the one-off green recovery spending in the next couple of years and undermine efforts to meet the Paris climate goals. Skills development and innovation are still insufficiently addressed in green recovery plans, even though they are essential for achieving a rapid and just transition to net-zero emissions.
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21/09/2021
The COVID-19 crisis created a sudden need for businesses and their employees to start or increase working from home. By facilitating teleworking from home, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been crucial in allowing economic activities to endure and enabling a significant portion of individuals to continue earning incomes. This brief presents key information on how teleworking evolved during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020), with a particular focus on timely and high frequency data published by national statistical organisations, as well as evidence on how telework may evolve in the future.
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06/09/2021
The COVID-19 health crisis has put unprecedented strains on the ability of both governments and taxpayers to carry out normal activities. Cross-border withholding tax relief procedures, frequently reliant on paper-based processes, are one area that has been particularly affected, creating challenges for taxpayers, financial institutions and tax administrations alike. This document contains administrative measures that source and residence jurisdictions may consider adopting to manage withholding tax relief procedures in a coordinated manner.
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19/07/2021
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a significant shift among most tax administrations to remote working by many of their staff. As tax administrations consider the shape of the workplace post-pandemic, many are examining the options for some degree of continued remote working for employees on a longer-term basis. Such a shift needs careful consideration as it touches many aspects of an organisation, from information technology through to employment policy and organisational culture. This note explore some of the key issues that tax administrations may wish to consider in designing remote working policies, processes and guidance to help ensure that longer-term remote working is sustainable for both the tax administration as a whole as well as individual employees. This note does not provide recommendations for particular measures as the circumstances of each administration will vary. Instead, the intention is that the information in this note will help to stimulate thinking in tax administrations as to where changes or additions to existing strategies could be needed, which is brought to life through examples of actions taken or planned by Forum on Tax Administration members.
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15/07/2021
Active labour market policies (ALMPs) that connect people to good jobs will help to promote an equitable and sustained recovery from the COVID‑19 crisis. Labour demand measures have been vital to preserve jobs in the short term and countries have begun to implement a suite of training programmes for displaced workers. Getting the correct balance of ALMPs is essential for ensuring an effective use of resources that reach, the people in need, including those most at risk of permanent detachment from the labour market and respond well to their needs. This policy brief highlights how OECD countries and a number of other countries have responded to the crisis in adapting and expanding the suite of ALMPs that they offer to prepare for an inclusive recovery.
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06/07/2021
Young people are among the most affected by the economic crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This brief provides cross-national information on young people’s concerns, perceived vulnerabilities and policy preferences. The results of the OECD Risks That Matter 2020 survey reveal that two in three 18-to-29 year olds are worried about their household’s finances and overall social and economic well-being, and an equal share thinks the government should be doing more to support them. However, only one in four young people are willing to pay additional taxes to finance better provision of employment or income support.
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06/07/2021
Young people have been hard hit by the wide-reaching labour market and social impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Youth unemployment has increased considerably; education and work‑based learning have been heavily disrupted; and many young people are suffering from financial insecurity, housing instability and mental distress. OECD governments have responded to this situation by taking comprehensive policy measures for young people, ranging from labour market and income support measures, to housing responses and mental health support. This policy brief provides an overview of the measures that countries have put in place to avoid a long-lasting negative impact on the employment prospects and aspirations of young people.
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23/06/2021
This policy brief discusses the effects that the COVID-19 crisis could have on the future of science, technology and innovation (STI) and its policies. Factors shaping the future of STI include the unequal effects of the crisis on research and development (R&D) across sectors, the accelerated adoption of digital tools and techniques, and changes in the openness, inclusiveness and agility of research and innovation ecosystems. STI policy could see fundamental changes as resilience, environmental sustainability and inclusiveness become more prominent objectives on policy agendas. The crisis could also spur experimentation with new tools, policy approaches and governance models.
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31/05/2021
OECD Ministers have endorsed a new initiative to promote safe international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic at the OECD’s annual Ministerial meeting in Paris. The Initiative involves a safe travel blueprint and a temporary international cross-sectoral forum for knowledge sharing. The forum will allow governments and stakeholders to share information in real time on plans and approaches facilitating travel. The blueprint promotes greater certainty, safety and security in travel as re-opening takes place. It builds on existing initiatives and aims to increase interoperability amongst travel regimes. It will be implemented by countries on a voluntary basis.
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27/05/2021
All across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to exceptional needs for government spending while at the same time reducing tax revenues. The result is an increase in public debt almost everywhere.
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21/05/2021
This brief analyses the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated government responses on the environment. It links the impact of sectoral and regional shocks to the economy until 2040 to a range of environmental pressures, including greenhouse gas emissions, emissions of air pollutants, the use of raw materials and land use change. The short-term reductions in environmental pressures are significant; as the economy gradually recovers, emissions are projected to increase again, with growth rates going back to the pre-COVID baseline projection levels. But there is a long-term – potentially permanent – downward impact on the levels of environmental pressures of 1-3%, with stronger effects for pressures related to capital-intensive economic activities.
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19/05/2021
The COVID‑19 pandemic and its associated government measures to limit mobility impacted patterns and places of alcohol consumption. While the path to recovery remains long and difficult, this crisis also increases the risk that individuals engage in harmful drinking to cope with stress. During the COVID‑19 pandemic, there has been an increase in domestic violence, for which harmful alcohol consumption is a risk factor.Harmful alcohol consumption damages health, causes diseases and injuries, weakens response to COVID‑19, and leads to significant economic and societal costs. Comprehensive policy packages built on a PPPP approach including Pricing policies, Policing to counter drink-driving, Primary care‑based counselling for heavy drinkers, and regulating alcohol Promotion activities, improve health, and support a stronger economic and social recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic.
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19/05/2021
This brief aims to support governments in designing gender-inclusive approaches to emergency management and recovery, building on OECD work and standards on gender equality in public life. Often due to pre-existing gender inequalities and socio-cultural norms, women have been disproportionately affected by the social and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on information gathered from OECD members through an April 2020 survey and consultation with the Working Party on Gender Mainstreaming and Governance, the brief explores practices and challenges in accounting for gender-differentiated impacts and the economic inclusion of both men and women in government responses to the pandemic. It also looks at how countries can promote gender equality as part of the recovery process, including through the use of tools for planning, regulations, budgets and public procurement. Ultimately, this brief provides insights on creating conditions for emergency management and recovery that take into account the needs of both men and women.
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12/05/2021
The COVID‑19 crisis has heightened the risk factors generally associated with poor mental health – financial insecurity, unemployment, fear – while protective factors – social connection, employment and educational engagement, access to physical exercise, daily routine, access to health services – fell dramatically. This has led to a significant and unprecedented worsening of population mental health. Across countries, the mental health of unemployed people and those experiencing financial insecurity was worse than that of the general population – a trend that pre‑dates the pandemic, but seems to have accelerated in some cases. OECD countries have responded with decisive efforts to scale‑up mental health services, and put into place measures to protect jobs and incomes, thereby reducing mental distress for some. However, the scale of mental distress since the start of the pandemic requires more integrated, whole‑of-society mental health support if it is not to lead to permanent scarring.
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12/05/2021
The mental health of young people has been significantly impacted by the COVID‑19 crisis. Prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression has risen dramatically among young people and remains higher than pre‑crisis levels even with the partial re‑opening of the economy, and compared to other age groups, even as economies partially re-open. The worsening of mental health can be attributed to disruptions to access to mental health services, the wide‑ranging impacts of school closures, and a labour market crisis that is disproportionately affecting young people. With adequate support and timely intervention, young people experiencing mental distress may be able to bounce back as we recover from the COVID‑19 crisis. This will require a scaling up of existing mental health support in education systems, workplaces and health systems, and comprehensive policies to support young people to remain in education, or to find and keep a job.
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10/05/2021
While the rapid development of vaccines against COVID‑19 is an extraordinary achievement, successfully vaccinating the global population presents many challenges, from production to distribution, deployment, and importantly, acceptance. Trust in the vaccines is vital, and is critically dependant on the ability of governments to communicate the benefits of vaccination, and to deliver the vaccines safely and effectively. This brief addresses the role of governments in promoting confidence in the effectiveness and safety through effective communication, as well as trust in their ability to procure and distribute them efficiently and equitably. While only a small minority of the population holds strong anti-vaccination views, hesitancy about COVID‑19 vaccination is evident in many countries. Recognising that vaccination campaigns of the magnitude needed are unprecedented, government actions to garner trust will be essential to their success, and to the emergence of more resilient societies after the crisis.
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