by Subra Ramamurthy
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This book begins with the current fiscal situation in eurozone countries such as Greece and Spain who emboldened by the currency integration adopted the policy of borrowing in euro that was available at low interest rates, and fueled their public spending. For a while they enjoyed a rising level of prosperity at the cost of burgeoning public debt. This resulted in the erosion of productivity in these countries making their exports uncompetitive, poor financial governance and lax surveillance of tax collections. Although the Maastricht Treaty creating the euro zone laid down strict norms for fiscal deficit and public debt in relation to GDP for the member countries, these were circumvented by creative fiscal accounting practices and underlying obsolete systems that understated their real levels. When the truth was discovered, there was a near-implosion in the euro area requiring collective bail-out measures by Germany and others to save it from collapse. Failure to adopt high fiscal management system standards that allowed such misleading practices is not uncommon in other regions, such as transition economies and developing countries.
Fiscal policies may vary across countries, but countries should reform their fiscal management systems adopting international standards. The book sets out the common contours of these reforms. The author shares his knowledge and forty years of international experience with countries planning to improve their fiscal management systems.