Quality of Public Finances and Economic Growth
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Fiscal sustainability is considered as a fundamental requirement of economic growth. The paper studies this topic regarding the EU Member States, especially the new ones. The ageing society of the EU countries results in growing dependency ratio and growing agerelated budget expenditure as implicit requirements. All these require the maintenance of the current state debt ratio and a permanent budget adjustment. The differences among Member States are significant, the country risks are diverse. In certain countries unsustainable public finances -sustainability gap – might evolve. Sustainable public finances are considered of special importance in the system of the EMU. Due to the lack of exchange rates, risk premia it comes to the spill-over of fiscal sustainability problems. Besides the reduction in state debt the creation of sustainable public finances requires employment and productivity growth, and the reforms of age-related expenditure. The quality of public finances requires the joint observance of several dimensions: long-term sustainability, stabilization (demand shocks), adjustment (effects of supply shocks) and the promotion of long-term growth are of outstanding importance. Main factors of the quality of public finances are the size of government, the level of deficit and state debt, composition of public spending, the structure of the tax system, and the fiscal governance and regulation. The Economic and Monetary Union itself has not forced out the necessary reforms yet. The fundamental public finance reforms are, however, unavoidable. In the ageing society there is a growing need for forward-looking policies. The integrated structural reforms that could contribute to the promotion of the potential growth might bring permanent solutions.