Basic elements for the definition of the standard cost concept: a review of the literature and of main foreign experiences
With regard to Region finance - particularly, as to the determination of «essential expenses» referable to the obligation specified in the letter m), 2nd paragraph, of the article 117 of the Italian Constitution - in the «Enabling Law on Fiscal Federalism » (Law n. 42 of 5 May 2009), the overcoming of the historical expenditure criterion is prescribed (see articles 1, 1st paragraph, and 2, 2nd paragraph, letter m) and at the same time the transition to the accounting and company-oriented "standard costs" method. For the record, the Enabling Law refers to the "standard costs" associated with the "Essential Levels of Services" «determined by State Law in full cooperation with Regions and Local Authorities», to be allocated «efficiently and adequately across the Country» (see article 8, 1st paragraph, letter b). Therefore, the amount of these expenses cannot be determined before the definition, by the State, or rather the Legislator, of the abovementioned "Essential Levels of Services" and, above all, of the meaning of "standard costs". Thus, this paper focuses on this issue, examining closely also the economic literature and main foreign experiences aimed at improving the efficiency, the equity and the adequacy of local public services.
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