Fiscal Rules at a Glance
Country Details from a New Dataset

This paper provides country-specific information on fiscal rules in use in 81 countries from 1985 to end-September 2012. It serves as background material and update of the July 2012 Working Paper “Fiscal Rules in Response to the Crisis—Toward the ‘Next Generation’ Rules: A New Dataset” and is also available in an easy accessible electronic data visualization tool (http://www.imf.org/external/datamapper/FiscalRules/map/map.htm.).The dataset covers four types of rules: budget balance rules, debt rules, expenditure rules, and revenue rules, applying to the central or general government or the public sector. It also presents details on various characteristics of rules, such as their legal basis, coverage, escape clauses, as well as key supporting features such as independent monitoring bodies.

Abstract

This paper provides country-specific information on fiscal rules in use in 81 countries from 1985 to end-September 2012. It serves as background material and update of the July 2012 Working Paper “Fiscal Rules in Response to the Crisis—Toward the ‘Next Generation’ Rules: A New Dataset” and is also available in an easy accessible electronic data visualization tool (http://www.imf.org/external/datamapper/FiscalRules/map/map.htm.).The dataset covers four types of rules: budget balance rules, debt rules, expenditure rules, and revenue rules, applying to the central or general government or the public sector. It also presents details on various characteristics of rules, such as their legal basis, coverage, escape clauses, as well as key supporting features such as independent monitoring bodies.

I. Introduction

This paper provides country-specific information on fiscal rules in use in 81 countries from 1985 to end-September 2012.1 It accompanies and updates the July 2012 Working Paper “Fiscal Rules in Response to the Crisis—Toward the ‘Next Generation’ Rules: A New Dataset” (Schaechter, Kinda, Budina, and Weber) and the electronic data visualization tool.2 The dataset covers four types of rules: budget balance rules, debt rules, expenditure rules, and revenue rules, applying to the central or general government or the public sector. It also presents country-specific details on various characteristics of rules, such as their legal basis, coverage, escape clauses, and takes stock of key supporting features that are in place, including independent monitoring bodies. The electronic dataset codes this information for easy cross-country comparisons and empirical analysis. It includes additionally information on institutional supporting arrangements, namely multi-year expenditure ceilings and fiscal responsibility laws.

A fiscal rule is a long-lasting constraint on fiscal policy through numerical limits on budgetary aggregates. This implies that boundaries are set for fiscal policy which cannot be frequently changed. That said the demarcation lines of what constitutes a fiscal rule are not always clear. For this dataset and paper, we followed the following principles:

  • In addition to covering rules with targets fixed in legislation, we consider also those fiscal arrangements, as fiscal rules for which the targets can be revised, but only on a low-frequency basis (e.g., as part of the electoral cycle) as long as they are binding for a minimum of three years. Thus, medium-term budgetary frameworks or expenditure ceilings that provide multi-year projections but can be changed annually are not considered to be rules.

  • We only consider those fiscal rules that set numerical targets on aggregates that capture a large share of public finances and at a minimum cover the central government level. Thus, rules for subnational governments or fiscal sub-aggregates are not included here.

  • We focus on de jure arrangements and not to what degree rules have been adhered to in practice.

How to interpret the country-specific information? The tables in Section II contain all national rules and a cross-reference to Section III if the country also operates under supranational fiscal rules. The date when a rule took effect is shown in brackets. The most recent rules are show first. When a characteristic of the rule was changed over time, the year of the change is shown in the respective column. A description of each rule and the time period to which it applied is included in the bottom part of each table. Supranational fiscal rules are described in Section III.

II. Fiscal Rules: Country Information

Antigua and Barbuda

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Argentina

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Armenia

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Australia

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Austria

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Belgium

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Benin

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Botswana

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Brazil

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Bulgaria

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Burkina Faso

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Cameroon

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Canada

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Cape Verde

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Central African Republic

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Chad

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Chile

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Colombia

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Congo, Republic of

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Costa Rica

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Cote d’lvoire

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Cyprus

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Czech Republic

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Denmark

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Dominica

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Ecuador

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Equatorial Guinea

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Estonia

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Finland

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France

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Gabon

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Germany

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Greece

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Grenada

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Guinea-Bissau

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Hong Kong SAR

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Hungary

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Iceland

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India

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Indonesia

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Ireland

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Israel

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Italy

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Jamaica

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Japan

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Kenya

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Kosovo

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Latvia

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Lithuania

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Luxembourg

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Mali

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Malta

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Mauritius

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Mexico

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Namibia

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Netherlands

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New Zealand

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Niger

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Nigeria

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Norway

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Pakistan

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Panama

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Peru

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Poland

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Portugal

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