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Singapore's recurrent budget surplus: The role of conservative growth forecasts

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  • Abeysinghe, Tilak
  • Jayawickrama, Ananda

Abstract

Aided by strong economic growth the Singapore government has been able to keep both the tax rate and the government expenditure rate low and yet generate healthy budget surpluses year after year. Although the gap between the tax rate and the government expenditure rate is the obvious source of the surplus, this paper shows the presence of another subtle source, a surplus generated by conservative growth forecasts that lay the base for revenue projections. An omitted variable bias in a model based on the tax smoothing hypothesis led us to consider the role played by the growth forecast error in predicting the budget surplus. Our computations show that on average the under-prediction of the tax base (GDP) must have contributed about S$ 376 million (or about 13%) per year to the realized budget surplus over the period 1990-2005. This appears to be simply a by-product of the Government's philosophy of "fiscal prudence".

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Asian Economics.

Volume (Year): 19 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 117-124

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Handle: RePEc:eee:asieco:v:19:y:2008:i:2:p:117-124

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  1. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
  2. Huang, Chao-Hsi & Lin, Kenneth S., 1993. "Deficits, government expenditures, and tax smoothing in the United States: 1929-1988," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 317-339, June.
  3. Ghosh, Atish R, 1995. "Intertemporal Tax-Smoothing and the Government Budget Surplus: Canada and the United States," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1033-45, November.
  4. Barro, Robert J, 1986. " U.S. Deficits since World War I," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 195-22.
  5. Olekalns, Nilss, 1997. "Australian Evidence on Tax Smoothing and the Optimal Budget Surplus," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 73(222), pages 248-57, September.
  6. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  7. Robert J. Barro, 1981. "On the Predictability of Tax-Rate Changes," NBER Working Papers 0636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Cashin, Paul & Ul Haque, Nadeem & Olekalns, Nilss, 2003. "Tax smoothing, tax tilting and fiscal sustainability in Pakistan," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 47-67, January.
  9. Serletis, Apostolos & Schorn, Richard G, 1999. "International Evidence on the Tax- and Revenue-Smoothing Hypotheses," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 387-96, April.
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  1. Le dollar Singapourien au plus haut face à l euro
    by Loïc Abadie in Contrepoints on 2012-04-23 12:00:00

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