The Reality of Budgetary Reform in OECD Nations

The Reality of Budgetary Reform in OECD Nations

Trajectories and Consequences

Edited by John Wanna, Lotte Jensen and Jouke de Vries

The Reality of Budgetary Reform in OECD Nations investigates the impacts and consequences of budgetary reform through a comparative assessment of advanced Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) democracies that have undertaken budget reforms over the past two to three decades.

Chapter 12: Budget Reform in Italy: Importing ‘Enlightened’ Ideas in a Difficult Context

Francesco Stolfi, Chiara Goretti and Luca Rizzuto

Subjects: economics and finance, public finance, public sector economics

Extract

Francesco Stolfi, Chiara Goretti and Luca Rizzuto Two parallel reform threads have characterized Italy’s path of budgetary reform: one affecting the procedures and documentation of the budget process; and the other the role and institutional strength of the executive and especially the central budgetary agencies. On the one hand, starting in the early 1960s, there have been successive waves of mandatory ‘enlightened’ reforms that have affected the budget process significantly, progressively modernizing the tools of economic policy. These statutes focused mainly on the parliamentary approval process while substantially neglecting the important games played within the executive itself. On the other hand, starting in the late 1980s and accelerating in the 1990s there has been a gradual empowerment of the executive vis-à-vis the parliament and in particular the central budget agency called the Ministero dell’ Economia e delle Finanze (Ministry of Economy and Finance or MEF). This reform process has strengthened the political executive, the core financial staff of the MEF, and the standing of the bureaucracy. The two threads are interconnected, but their different nature and paths followed makes it difficult to find immediate correspondences, with some notable exceptions such as the merger of the economic ministries in the 1990s. Statutory reforms have tended to be ‘big pushes’ initiated by a relatively limited number of reform-oriented experts. The strengthening of the executive and MEF, by contrast, has been a gradual process, reflecting the changing political context and the increasing political weight of the Finance Minister within the executive, as...

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