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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General government fiscal balance

Governments spend money in order perform their activities, and the required financial resources to cover government expenditures are obtained through the collection of taxes or by contracting debt. The fiscal balance is the difference between government revenues and spending. If in a given year, a government receives more than it spends, a surplus occurs. Conversely, when the government spends more than it receives in revenues, there is a deficit. Consecutive deficits will lead to mounting debt levels and consequently higher payments of interest. The primary balance that is the balance before interest payments signals the capacity of governments to honour debt without the need for further indebtedness.

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