Government at a Glance 2015

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Government at a Glance 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, health and justice. Government at a Glance also includes indicators on key governance and public management issues, such as transparency in governance, regulatory governance, public procurement and the implementation of employment and remuneration reforms since 2009. 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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Fiscal balance and debt by level of government

Fiscal balance for a given level of government (from national to local) is achieved when expenditures and revenues are balanced. The situation where revenues exceed expenses (positive balance) is called a surplus. On the contrary, a negative balance is called a deficit. While balances are consolidated across all levels of government, depending on the political and administrative structure, central and sub-central governments share different degrees of fiscal sovereignty. For example in federal countries, states have higher autonomy to contract debt and levy taxes. The general government debt (across all levels of government) might be affected by modest changes in debt by a large number of sub-central governments. Liabilities from sub-central governments resulting from the need to finance deficits through borrowing are considered as debt of the sub-central governments. However, the capacity of sub-central governments to incur debt is often limited since they are usually subject to tight fiscal rules.

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