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OECD Economic Surveys: Estonia 2011

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Estonia 2011

The 2011 edition of OECD's periodic economic survey of Estonia's economy.  This edition includes chapters covering emerging from the recessions, fiscal policy, public sector spending efficiency, and making the most of globalisation. It finds that Estonia continues to show a remarkable determination in policy making.  It has established business-friendly regulation, avoided fiscal deterioration during the crisis and made it into the euro area despite being hit by an accumulation of external shocks.  Nevertheless, it has not fully reaped the benefits of globalisation.

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Public sector spending efficiency

Healthcare and local government

The Estonian fiscal position is much better than in many OECD countries, the country stands out for having a rather lean government sector and the authorities are striving for efficient use of existing resources. Both healthcare and local government were particularly hit the by the decrease of resources as a result of the unprecedented GDP fall during the downturn. As a return to high revenue buoyancy will not be immediate, there are challenges for delivering the same with less money but it is also an opportunity to reconsider provision of public services. The healthcare sector is state dominated and offers some scope for efficiency improvements. On the supply side, further streamlining of the existing hospital network, emphasising primary care, and keeping an eye on the standard of quality of care, would be helpful. A number of market signals are already in place on the demand side, such as fees and drug co-payments. Yet these raise issues of accessibility of healthcare, in particular for financially distressed households. A cap on out-of-pocket spending together with active promotion of least expensive drugs use would help to address this issue. Local government seems rather extensive and fragmented for such a small country. Exploiting economies of scale, either by merging or requiring deeper co-operation, should bring gains in terms of public service efficiency. Offering greater scope for tax raising at the local level can incentivise the municipalities to adopt more growth-oriented economic policies.

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