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Creating Fiscal Space for Poverty Reduction in Ecuador: A Fiscal Management and Public Expenditure Review (World Bank Country Study) (World Bank Country Study)

Creating Fiscal Space for Poverty Reduction in Ecuador: A Fiscal Management and Public Expenditure Review (World Bank Country Study) (World Bank Country Study)

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Book DescriptionEcuador¡¦s impressive fiscal performance of 2003 is encouraging, but fragile. Several structural bottlenecks could impede fiscal discipline and recovery, which is a pre-condition to develop a poverty reduction agenda. Tax earmarkings and exemptions and an expansive payroll and pensions bill have reduced to a minimum the available fiscal space for development needs. Reversing poverty trends is critical for the country¡¦s stability, and this can only be achieved with well-targeted, effective and efficient pro-poor programs. The status quo is not an option for poverty reduction.

Preserving a sound fiscal position and deepening positive social outcomes is well within reach. Among the country¡¦s many strengths are: a prolonged oil windfall; the existence of and compliance with fiscal rules; decreasing arrears that should fully disappear in 2004, substantive progress on social outcomes despite decreasing budgets; and a series of on-going reforms on budget management.

If reforms are to succeed, they have to be pro-poor. Ecuador¡¦s fiscal stress and poor budget management is deeply rooted in a governance system benefiting the elites, be it reflected on pro-rich subsidies, especially on basic infrastructure; off-budget operations that prevent transparency and foster corruption, or regressive transfers to subnational governments explained by party politics. The challenge for the Government is to provide more effective, efficient, sustainable and equitable assistance to the poor.