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Fiscal Responsibility Laws For Subnational Discipline: The Latin American Experience

Fiscal Responsibility Laws For Subnational Discipline: The Latin American Experience Author: Steven B. Webb

Date Published: 2:38:38 PM Thursday, 23-January-2020


This paper discusses fiscal responsibility laws in Latin America, with special attention to their provisions for fiscal discipline by subnational governments. It discusses why and when such laws might be useful—to help resolve the coordination problem in getting diverse governments to avoid overusing the common national credit market and to help individual governments make a timeconsistent commitment for fiscal prudence. It examines the cases of Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina, as well as the case of Mexico where other types of laws and regulations aim to achieve the same objectives of solidifying incentives for fiscal discipline at all levels of government. Fiscal responsibility laws are found to be useful in some cases, although the experience is not long enough to be certain, but they are clearly not necessary in every case, nor always sufficient to assure fiscal stability.