The COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-standing economic vulnerabilities: high inequality and a high share of small and mid-size companies with weak productivity performance. Solid COVID-19 related government interventions are cushioning some of the negative effects, but structural policy action is needed to prevent the crisis effects undoing some of the progress in reducing poverty and inequality achieved through the past decades and to strengthen economic resilience and growth in the future.
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2021 Structural Reform Priorities
Strengthening competitiveness, productivity and well-being is a key priority for the Government of Chile. To support this effort, the OECD provided Chile with policy advice on how to enhance the economic performance and well-being in four strategic sectors of the Chilean economy: pharmaceuticals, food, ports and telecommunications.
The four reports examine the main challenges of each sector in an intersectoral manner and provide targeted recommendations with concrete policy actions for implementation in the short, medium and long term. In particular, topics include the affordability and accessibility of Chile’s pharmaceutical market; efforts towards healthier and more efficient food markets; ports’ labour conditions and competitiveness and policies for a more dynamic telecommunication sector. Through its analysis of the main challenges in the Chilean health and network sectors, the project thus contributes to the development of a set of co-ordinated structural reforms for improving the country’s economy and peoples’ lives.
The policy actions were developed by a multidisciplinary OECD team with experts from the Economics Department, the Trade and Agriculture Directorate, the Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate, the Science, Technology and Innovation Directorate, the Public Governance Directorate, the Financial and Enterprise Affairs Directorate, and the International Transport Forum.
Chile is set for a gradual recovery over the next two years, with activity returning to its pre-pandemic levels in late 2022. GDP growth will be 4.2% during 2021, after a contraction of 6% in 2020. Private consumption will be a main driver of the recovery, initially sustained by measures implemented by the government to support households, a gradual improvement of the labour market sustained by hiring subsidies and withdrawals from pension funds. Investment will regain momentum at a slow pace, conditional on the evolution of the pandemic, driven by public infrastructure plans, supportive financing conditions and tax incentives. Recovering global demand will also be beneficial.
Solid fiscal and monetary policy frameworks allowed the authorities to pursue bold measures, which prevented a deeper contraction and are avoiding deeper scars from the pandemic. Continuing with an ambitious structural reform agenda, in particular planned reforms to bolster pensions and female participation in the labour force, would sustain an inclusive recovery. Additional public investment, especially in education, the lifelong learning system, active labour market policies, and digital and transport infrastructure, would help strengthen the recovery further.
Independent fiscal institutions are key in supporting well-designed fiscal frameworks that ensure long-term sustainability of public finances and adequate fiscal space to meet country needs. The Autonomous Fiscal Council (Consejo Fiscal Autónomo, CFA) is Chile’s independent fiscal institution tasked with contributing to the responsible management of the central government’s fiscal policy. While still relatively young as it started operating in June 2019, the CFA has already established itself as a respected institution relying on a wide range of analytical tools. In the current context, marked by a sharp increase of public debt, it is key to ensure that the models and tools used by the CFA remains “fit-for-purpose” and aligned with international best practices and standards. This report presents advice on how the CFA can further strengthen its models and tools. The report is the result of the work of an interdisciplinary OECD team bringing together expertise on country analysis, macroeconomic analysis and policy advice from across the Economics Department.