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How to Use Oil Revenues Efficiently

Shantayanan Devarajan ()
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Shantayanan Devarajan: World Bank

No 1199, Working Papers from Economic Research Forum

Abstract: Oil-rich countries systematically misallocate public expenditures relative to non-oil countries–by favoring consumption over capital, and within consumption, inefficient subsidies and public-sector wages over targeted transfers. Furthermore, for given levels of expenditure, value-for-money is considerably less in oil-rich countries. This paper argues that the reason for this inefficiency is that oil revenues go directly to the government without passing through the hands of the citizens, as is the case with tax revenues. As a result, governments in oil countries are less accountable for public expenditure, which leads to inefficient spending. To improve public-spending efficiency, we propose that all oil revenues be distributed directly to citizens, and the resources that government needs be raised through taxation. We show that such a scheme improves the efficiency of public spending. We consider possible obstacles to such a reform and show that they have been overcome by technology, politics, and global events.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene
Date: 2018-05-24, Revised 2018-05-24
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