Skip to main content

"There Can Be No Equality without Sustainable Public Accounts"

Available in EnglishEspañol
10 May 2011|Press Release

Alicia Bárcena outlined the main fiscal challenges now faced by the region's governments.


Alicia Bárcena, Secretaria Ejecutiva de la CEPAL
Alicia Bárcena, Secretaria Ejecutiva de la CEPAL
Alejandro Hoppe/CEPAL

(18 January 2011) "It is time for equality, but there can be no equality without sustainable public accounts".  This was according to Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), speaking at the opening of the 23rd Regional seminar on fiscal policy being held at the organization's headquarters in Santiago, Chile.

At the seminar, which will run until Friday 21 January, renowned international experts and senior fiscal authorities will discuss ECLAC's proposals in terms of fiscal policy and productive convergence with equality, as well as actions and policies arising from the agreements of the recent United Nations Conference on Climate Change, and other fiscal issues likely to boost inclusive economic development.

At the opening session, Alicia Bárcena presented the main proposals of ECLAC included in the document Time for equality: closing gaps, opening trails, and outlined the main fiscal challenges now facing the region's governments.

"The balance between sustainable public accounts, the redistributive capacity of fiscal policy and increased coverage for social investment, as part of moves to progressively make benefits universal,  is perhaps the main future challenge for public finances", she said.

The Executive Secretary also presented the document Overview of the public sector in Latin America.  Public management at a time for equality, which describes the interconnected challenges of public finances and public management, and development planning in Latin America - which are key issues for the new State architecture proposed in the document "Time for equality".

Although the document points out that the quality of public finances in the region has improved in recent decades (for instance, the public debt of the region's countries dropped from 80% of GDP in 1990 to 30% in 2010, while fiscal revenues rose from an average of 16.0% of GDP in 1990 to 21.3% in 2009), there remain issues outstanding.

These include the need to improve countries' tax revenue structures, the limited redistributive impact of social spending and the lack of sufficient investment for development.

In terms of planning, Alicia Bárcena stressed that it was once more taking pride of place in the public management of many of the region's governments: "Planning is back. It is a fundamental part of improving the effectiveness of public policies and facilitating the construction of a new State architecture".

The opening session of the 23rd Regional seminar on fiscal policy also featured a presentation by Carlo Cottarelli, Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and remarks by Karen Slowing, Secretary of State for Planning and Programming, Office of the President, Guatemala, and President of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Development Planning (REDEPLAN); María Dolores Almeida, Deputy Minister of Finance of Ecuador; Félix Martínez Suárez, Deputy Minister of Finance and Pricing of Cuba; José Lazo, from the Technical Secretariat of the Office of the President of El Salvador; Armando Montero, Under-Secretary for Expenditure of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit of Mexico; Verónica Zavala, Sector Manager from the World Bank; and Mario Marcel, Head of institutional capacity and finance sector, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

See also:



The media are invited to take part in the seminar (ECLAC headquarters, Av. Dag Hammarskjöld 3477, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile).

For more information and an agenda, please visit the ECLAC website.

For press information, please contact the ECLAC Public Information and Web Services Section.

E-mail:; telephone: (56 2) 210 2040.