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Economic transformation and the fiscal crisis : a critical look at the Central European experience of the 1990s


  • Barbone, Luca
  • Marchetti, Domenico Jr.
  • DEC


The authors argue that traditional explanations of the fiscal crisis in reforming ex-socialist economies overlook crucial connections between key components of the deficit - particularly between reductions in spending and declines in revenues. Almost all studies of the fiscal aspects of the transition stress the impact on the fiscal budget of the performance crisis in state-owned enterprises. The authors contend that this aspect of the fiscal crisis has been overstated. The enterprise sector's net contribution to the government budget - that is, net income from profit taxes after subtracting subsidies - has increased during the transition in Czechoslovakia and Poland and has not changed substantially in Hungary. After reexamining the data, the authors argue that although the fiscal crisis is certainly structural, the main blame should be attributed to the explosion in spending (especially social spending) rather than to the crisis in revenues. Many of the social costs of adjustment were previously hidden within the state-owned enterprises system. These social costs include unemployment benefits and the cost of supporting - through pensions or social assistance - the people displaced from the work force by the transformation. It is important to continue reforming the tax system and tax administration - to deal with the widespread hiding of profits and cheating on taxes - but all three countries already have relatively high levels of taxation. Society in the three countries may not be willing to provide the resources required to support or extend current spending levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Barbone, Luca & Marchetti, Domenico Jr. & DEC, 1994. "Economic transformation and the fiscal crisis : a critical look at the Central European experience of the 1990s," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1286, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1286

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    Cited by:

    1. Milan Nikolic & Jacek Rostowski, 1995. "Exit in the Framework of Macro-economic Shocks and Policy Responses during Transition: a Cross-country Comparison," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0056, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Stanislaw Gomulka, 1995. "The IMF-Supported Programs of Poland and Russia, 1990-1994: Principles, Errors and Results," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0036, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    3. Urszula Kosterna, 1996. "The State of Public Finances in Post-socialist, Central European Economies: a Comparison with the European Union Countries," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0076, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    4. Luca Barbone & Domenico Marchetti, 1995. "Transition and the fiscal crisis in Central Europe," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 3(1), pages 59-74, March.


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