Government at a Glance: Latin America and the Caribbean 2017

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This second edition of Government at a Glance: Latin America and the Caribbean provides the latest available data on public administrations in the LAC region and compares it to OECD countries. It contains new indicators on public finances, centres of government, regulatory governance, open government, digital government and public procurement. This edition also includes a special feature on health budgeting.

After a decade of sustained economic growth reinforced by high commodity prices, economic conditions are deteriorating in the LAC region. In this context, LAC governments are expected to design and deliver more inclusive, transparent  and efficient policies. This report provides policy makers with performance measurements and offers comparative perspective. Good indicators are needed more than ever to help governments make informed decisions and tough choices, in order to  maintain progress and improvements in the region.

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General government debt

Government debt represents governments’ outstanding liabilities stemming from the need to finance deficits through borrowing. Fluctuations of the exchange and interest rates can have a strong effect on government debt when it has a relevant foreign currency component, creating external vulnerability. Historically, LAC countries have been sensitive to fluctuations in external conditions resulting in high volatility of public finances. Thus, many countries have experienced low credibility about their fiscal policy, affecting their ability to obtain long-term credit at low premiums. However, in recent years some countries such as Chile, Colombia and Mexico established fiscal rules and stabilisation funds, which together with a recomposition from external to internal debt and prudent fiscal policy resulted in enhanced conditions to access debt markets.

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