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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".

Suggested Citation

  • Abeysinghe, Tilak & Jayawickrama, Ananda, 2008. "Singapore's recurrent budget surplus: The role of conservative growth forecasts," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 117-124, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:asieco:v:19:y:2008:i:2:p:117-124
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. Barro, 1981. "On the Predictability of Tax-Rate Changes," NBER Working Papers 0636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1986. " U.S. Deficits since World War I," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 195-122.
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    6. 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 1033-1045, November.
    7. 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.
    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tsuchiya, Yoichi, 2016. "Assessing macroeconomic forecasts for Japan under an asymmetric loss function," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 233-242.
    2. repec:ire:issued:v:20:n:04:2017:p:417-450 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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