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Ziying Fan and Guanghua Wan

Since the Tax Sharing Reform in 1994, the local government revenue of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has faced downward risk problems. This chapter reviews the fiscal and taxation reforms in the central and local governments of the PRC and focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of fiscal transfers. We find that, to a certain extent, fiscal transfers significantly promote the construction of local infrastructure. Earmarked transfers had an effect, but lump-sum transfers did not. Results showed every 1 percent increase in earmarked transfers to be associated with a 5 percent increase in local spending on infrastructure. These fiscal transfers also increased the size of local government spending such that a 1 percent increase of fiscal transfer would increase the ratio of local fiscal spending to gross domestic product by 1 percent. The risk of the local fiscal revenue sources was also assessed, and results showed that land finance, local government bonds, and fiscal transfers from the central government are not sustainable in the long term. The local fiscal system in the PRC needs to focus on improving local taxes in the future, such as the property tax.

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Salvador Barrios and Diego Martínez-López

Examining the cases of Canada, Germany, and Spain, the role played by fiscal equalization schemes in determining subnational borrowing was analyzed, and the link between regional governments’ primary fiscal balances and gross domestic product per capita was tested econometrically. The study results show that either poor or rich regions can display higher regional public borrowing on average, and these results can be linked to the institutional design of regional equalization systems in place. Particular elements, such as tax efforts and fiscal capacities, also play relevant roles in this regard. Reforms of these schemes can therefore prove instrumental in reducing regional heterogeneity in public borrowing.

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Peter J. Morgan and Long Q. Trinh

Since 1975, Viet Nam has gradually decentralized more fiscal responsibilities to local authorities. This chapter has two objectives: (i) to take stock of the current institutional framework for intergovernmental fiscal relations in Viet Nam, and (ii) to empirically assess the debt sustainability of local governments in Viet Nam. The empirical analysis uses two estimation methods: (i) fully modified ordinary least squares (OLS) to estimate the long-term correlations between co-integration equations, including vectors of co-integration variables, and stochastic regressor innovations; and (ii) fiscal reaction equations at the provincial level, based upon the Bohn (2008) model. The empirical results suggest that deficit levels are generally sustainable at the local level.

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Pinaki Chakraborty

The core emphasis of rules-based fiscal legislation at the subnational level in India is to achieve debt sustainability through a numerical ceiling on borrowing and the use of borrowed resources for public capital investment by phasing out revenue deficits. Using the Arellano Bond Panel estimation, this chapter examines whether the application of fiscal rules has resulted in an increase in the fiscal space for public capital investment spending in major Indian states. This analysis shows that by controlling other factors, there is a negative relationship between fiscal rules and public capital investment spending at the state level during the rules-based fiscal regime.

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Panchanan Das

Despite the initiatives of the Finance Commission of India, fiscal performance has been deteriorating and increasingly diverging across Indian states. Given that the state governments are endowed with expenditure autonomy, this chapter investigates whether the composition of expenditure of the subnational governments has an impact on the degree of indebtedness. A panel analysis for the 17 non-special category states over 1980–2013 indicates that apart from the budget structure, the state-specific factors affecting fiscal performance play an important role in government borrowing. Curiously enough, government borrowing is more responsive to revenue expenditure than capital outlay and has more growth-augmenting effect through revenue expenditure.

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Central and Local Government Relations in Asia

Achieving Fiscal Sustainability

Edited by Naoyuki Yoshino and Peter J. Morgan

Sustainable and inclusive growth in emerging Asian economies requires high levels of public investment in areas such as infrastructure, education, health, and social services. The increasing complexity and regional diversity of these investment needs, together with the trend of democratization, has led to fiscal decentralization being implemented in many Asian economies. This book takes stock of some major issues regarding fiscal decentralization, including expenditure and revenue assignments, transfer programs, and sustainability of local government finances, and develops important findings and policy recommendations.
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Shun-ichiro Bessho

This chapter aims to provide an overview of the basics of Japan’s local public administration and finance system and to analyze how Japan’s municipalities restore their fiscal balance after a fiscal shock. In Japan, local governments play a major role in redistribution. Combined with regional disparities in tax capacities and an inflexible local tax system, there is a large vertical fiscal gap in Japan between the central and local governments – a gap that necessitates the transfer of funds from central to local governments. Under this system, the fiscal adjustments in Japan’s municipalities occur mainly via changes in government investment, and they account for 63–95 percent of adjustments in permanent unit innovations in grants and own-source revenue. In contrast to the role of expenditure, the municipalities’ own-source revenue plays a limited role in balancing the local budget. The results of this chapter also reveal that 40 percent of the increase in own-source revenue is offset by a reduction in grants. Furthermore, municipalities can induce grants by expanding government current expenditure. Finally, this chapter offers and discusses some policy implications.

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Yuzhuo Cai and Fengqiao Yan

The chapter provides an account of the major structural changes in Chinese higher education since 2000. It focusses on governance, finance, and priorities and responsibilities to serve the social and economic modernization of the country. It concludes that enhancing Chinese universities’ social engagement and international research and development profiles is a necessary if China is to integrate with a global knowledge-based economy.

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Zhiqun Zhao and Xueping Wu

The chapter provides an account of the historical and current development of technical and vocational education. The modernization and reform of the system has shown the importance of technical and vocational education to skills development in the labour market. The authors conclude, however, that Confucian inspired prejudice continues to constrain public participation and engagement in technical and vocational education, irrespective of the central government’s policy commitment and interventions.

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Ping Zhao, Jun Zhou and Qiong Li

The chapter provides an account of the transition of teacher education from a single-purpose teacher preparation system to the current system where the responsibility of preparing future teachers is shared between normal universities and general-purpose (or comprehensive) colleges and universities. This has improved the qualification profiles of teachers in China. However, quality issues and regional disparities remain to be addressed.