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Government at a Glance 2013

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Government at a Glance 2013 provides readers with a dashboard of key indicators assembled with the goal of contributing to the analysis and international comparison of public sector performance. Indicators on government revenues, expenditures, and employment are provided alongside key output and outcome data in the sectors of education and health. Government at a Glance also includes indicators on key governance and public management issues, such as transparency in governance, regulatory governance, new ways in delivering public services and HRM and compensation practices in the public service. While measuring government performance has long been recognized as playing an important role in increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the public administration, following the economic crisis and fiscal tightening in many member countries, good indicators are needed more than ever to help governments make informed decisions regarding tough choices and help restore confidence in government institutions.

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General government fiscal balance

The fiscal balance is the difference between government revenues and expenditures. A fiscal deficit occurs when, in a given year, a government spends more than it receives in revenues. On the other hand, a government will run a surplus when revenues exceed expenditures. Consecutive large fiscal deficits are strongly detrimental to the sustainability of public finances as they are financed by additional debt. When the level of outstanding debt is high, the cost of servicing that debt (both in absolute interest payments and in higher interest rates) pushes a country further into deficit, thereby hindering fiscal sustainability. Governments can reduce future debt servicing costs by improving the primary balance, which equals the fiscal balance net of interest payments.

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