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Time to arrest decline in public investment: OECD Report

By TIOL News Service

PARIS, JULY 14, 2017: THE OECD has called for correcting the steady decline in public investment since 2009 as government have responded differently to new demands on them with many raising spending on social services, trimming public sector employment and most stabilising day-to-day running costs at a lower level.

The report also looks at the pay of public agents like police, immigration officers and tax inspectors. It finds that police officers on central government payroll earn an average of USD 64,795 (at purchasing power parity) while police inspectors earn USD 81,952. Adjusted for differences in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, police officers earn the most in Greece, Spain and Portugal.

The report further made findings that Denmark, Norway and Sweden have the highest levels of government employment, at nearly 30% of total employment. Asian countries rely less on public sector staff with government jobs making up only 6% of employment in Japan and 7.6% in Korea. Central government revenues in the OECD area were 72.5% financed by taxes in 2015 (from 47.6% in Norway to 91% in Belgium), 16.1% by social contributions (the highest being the US at 33.7%), and the rest by asset sales, grants and other revenues.

The most decentralised OECD countries are Switzerland, with over 90% of government staff working at the sub-central level, then Canada and Japan. The most centralised are Turkey and Ireland with around 90% employed at the central level of government. Ten countries (Canada, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, Mexico and the UK) say spending reviews helped them meet 90% or more of their fiscal objectives but nine could not assess their success. The share of OECD citizens voicing confidence in their governments fell to 42% in 2016 from 45% in 2007 (2016 Gallup World Poll).

Women make up 53% of judges in OECD countries but only 29% of parliamentarians and 28% of ministers. Canada, France, Slovenia and Sweden have gender parity in cabinet posts as of 2017, but women hold only one post in Turkey and zero in Hungary. The use of digital government services has tripled in OECD countries since 2006, with around 36% of OECD citizens submitting forms via public authorities' websites in 2016.

The fifth edition of the OECD's biennial comparison of public sector performance in major economies, finds the biggest share of public investment (a third) goes into economic areas like transportation and energy. The next biggest share (15%) goes on defence. Restoring public investment in areas like infrastructure, technology, green energy and education should have a positive impact on future employment and healthcare.

Considering the findings made by the Government at a Glance 2017, it can be said that before crisis, the government had spended around 40.9% of GDP in OECD countries in 2015, up from 38.8% in 2007. The number of government jobs as a share of total employment remained little changed at 18.1% in 2015 versus 17.9% in 2007, although some countries have reported workforce reductions.


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