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6% of the GDP for education: an objective whose achievement does not depend only on the Government, but on every one of us

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The allocation of a percentage of 6% of the GDP for the educational sector represents one of the topics constantly appearing in the public space, many considering that everything depends only on the Government’s decision, speaking about a prioritization of the budget expenses. But in reality, things are a little more complicated and the implementation of such a measure does not depend only on the decision of authorities but on every one of us.

The share of education in the GDP: Romania's rate is worst that that of the developed countries

Both in 2011 and in 2012, the budget of education represents the equivalent of about 4% of the GDP, percentage relatively equal to that in 2010. For comparison, the information due to the OECD Member States reveals that in 2008 (the last year for which consolidated information exists), the educational sector received between 4% of the GDP in Slovakia and 7.9% in Iceland, the average being of 6.1%. In terms of the EU Member States, the average was of 5.1%.

Considering the percentage of 4% recorded this year, Romania would occupy the last position among the 30 countries for which information is available, but we have to mention the fact that we don’t compare the same things since the information for Romania is from 2010/2011, and that for the other countries is from 2008, year when the budget constraints were not so great. In 2008, the Romanian educational system received almost 6% of the GDP.

The share of education in public expenses: Romania's rate is better than that of the developed countries

Things change if we relate the education budget not to the GDP but to the total of budget expenses. Thus, in our case, 4% of the GDP means 12.1% of the total of budget expenses, percentage higher than that recorded by 9 more developed countries, all these allocating between 10 and 12%. They are Italy, Hungary, Germany, Finland, Austria, Czech Republic, Sweden, France and the Netherlands. Moreover, we are above the European average of 11.6%.

On the other hand, there are countries that allocate more than we: for instance, Poland allocated 15.3%, Switzerland 16.5% and Iceland 19%. I repeat that the information for these countries is from 2008, and not from 2010/2011.

6% of the GDP for education: an objective which accomplishment does not depend only on the Government, but on every one of us

In Romania, the total of the budget incomes represents the equivalent of 33% of the GDP, while the European average is of 44%. In other words, we collect 11% below the average, which, in absolute amounts, means a minus of 12-13 billion Euros per year, money that do not go to the budget for various reasons, the most important of them being the tax evasion.

Now, if we think that the increase of the education budget from 4% to 6% of the GDP means a plus of about 2.5 billion Euros, we can easily imagine that the increase of the budget incomes from 33% of the GDP now, to at least 37-38%, would generate enough funds to significantly increase both the education budget and that of heath, another underfunded domain.

The small share of the incomes in the GDP is the main reason why so many sectors are underfunded and the question is how can we increase the incomes, so that the authorities to have more money to distribute.

Of course, the state control authorities must work better and enforce the law. The tax evasion is huge, but with all efforts of the NAFA recently, the progress in fighting this phenomenon is quite small.

Secondly, the tax evasion is not made by aliens, but by Romanians, and its reduction does not depend only on the Government, but on every one of us. After all, the NAFA can not assign a tax agent next to each individual to check if it is correct or not.

For instance, many are not interested in making a simple gesture as to request the fiscal receipt when buying something, even tough it does not cost anything. Maybe such gestures seem insignificant, but let's think that the lack of a fiscal receipt automatically leads to a loss of 24% as the VAT incomes for the purchased goods represents, and in a year, the budget loses million of Euros only in this segment of tax evasion.

We all know the famous phrase of Kennedy who said "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country", and in the context above, before accusing the Government (whatever it would be, we do not politicize the discussion) that it does not wish to increase the education budget or that of health or that it does not wish to increase pensions, and so on, each of us should wonder if they did everything that depended on them so that the authorities be able to take such measures.
And here we are not talking about making donations, but only about being fair and paying all taxes. Only then we can call the Government to account.

28.11.2011

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