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La dette publique : un défi prioritaire pour le Québec

  • Marcelin Joanis
  • Claude Montmarquette

This paper first recalls the high level of public indebtedness in Quebec. A literature review and a description of the evolution of the problematics, carried out by the means of a retrospective analysis as well as a projection exercise, show (1) the "uncoupling"" of the public finances that occurred from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s; (2) the current dynamics of public finances and indebtedness; and (3) the lack of a scientific consensus regarding the debt targets and policies that governments should pursue. The paper analyzes and uses the ""traditional rule"" for indebtedness, which states that government outlays generating benefits that are spread over time should be funded through borrowing. The paper then concludes that, given the current situation, the Quebec Government should set a positive budgetary target each year to provide for some leeway in case of an economic slowdown, and that unused monies from this reserve be earmarked for debt paybacks as well as contributions to a stabilization fund intended to counteract future fluctuations. The sale of public assets is also considered, but only insofar as this leads to an improvement in the government's financial situation." Cette étude rappelle d'abord le niveau élevé de l'endettement public au Québec. Une revue de littérature et une description de l'évolution de la problématique dans le temps, effectuée à l'aide d'une analyse rétrospective et d'un exercice de projection, montrent : (1) le « décrochage » des finances publiques survenu entre le milieu des années 1970 et le début des années 1990; (2) la dynamique actuelle des finances publiques et de l'endettement; et (3) l'absence de consensus scientifique quant aux cibles et aux politiques d'endettement que devraient viser les gouvernements. L'étude analyse et utilise la « règle traditionnelle » d'endettement, qui consiste à emprunter pour des dépenses générant des bénéfices étalés dans le temps. L'étude conclut ensuite que, au vu de la situation actuelle, le Gouvernement du Québec devrait établir chaque année une cible budgétaire positive afin de s'assurer une marge de man?uvre en cas de ralentissement économique, et affecter tout solde inutilisé de cette réserve au remboursement de la dette ainsi qu'à un fonds de stabilisation visant à contrer les fluctuations futures. La possibilité de monétiser certains actifs publics est également considérée, mais uniquement dans la mesure où celle-ci permet d'améliorer la position financière du gouvernement.

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File URL: http://www.cirano.qc.ca/files/publications/2004RP-03.pdf
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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Project Reports with number 2004rp-03.

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Length: 63 pages
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirpro:2004rp-03
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