chapter  2
ByDavid M. Newbery
Pages 23

Vito Tanzi’s extensive publications range over issues of taxation, debt, deficits and the importance of fiscal reform for nurturing sustainable economic growth. His recent studies of fiscal policy for transitional economies bring many of these themes together (Tanzi, 1992, 1993). In soviet-type economies public finance is almost indistinguishable from the organisation of production, accumulation and distribution, managed through the planning system and carried out by large enterprises under ministerial direction. The transition to a market economy raises sharp questions of the role of the state in promoting and undertaking capital accumulation. When assets are privatised, their profits no longer directly return to the exchequer, but nor does the responsibility to finance their investment. With the transfer of assets to private ownership, the state loses the tangible asset backing to its liabilities, of which an important part are future social security and pension obligations. Clearly, privatisation has important effects on the national balance sheet, and thus the national debt, as well as on current government revenue and expenditures. A study of the fiscal effects of privatisation therefore sits happily within the issues that continue to concern Vito Tanzi.