Unformatted text preview: l consumption tax field (creation of Australia’s GST all of whose proceeds are paid to
the states in the form of unconditional transfers distributed according to an equalization formula). It accordingly links
funding of state programs more closely to the yield of the GST than to federal budget decisions. As such, an intelligent
accommodation has been achieved, using a federal law, to decisions by the High Court that deprive the states and
territories of access to various major tax fields such as consumption of goods and services and the sale of specific
goods (gasoline, tobacco and alcohol). The reform was supported unanimously by the states and territories. The new
intergovernmental fiscal arrangements guarantee that states receive transfer revenue at least equal to what they would
have obtained without the reform and that no change will be made to the GST without the unanimous agreement of the
states and the Commonwealth.
More stable funding for health and education is also a core demand of the autonomous communities (ACs) in Spain
seeking greater fiscal autonomy. The ACs will soon have complete responsibility for health. The expected growth in
costs in this field is adding to the pressure for AC funding agreements that would secure greater financial autonomy for 9 Commission on Fiscal Imbalance 17 them. The unanimous agreement the 15 ACs under the common regime and the central state reached in July 2001 to
define a new funding system for the ACs for 2002-2006 goes in this direction.
In Belgium, the problems of education funding in the French Community and Flanders’ desire for fiscal autonomy were
key elements to the political negotiations that led to the Saint-Polycarpe Agreement in 2001. This agreement stipulates a
refinancing of the Communities, extension of the fiscal jurisdictions of the Regions and the transfer of jurisdictions to the
Communities and the Regions. All decisions and reforms concerning intergovernmental financial relations in this country
require a broad consensus, since special funding laws are required to pass them. These special laws require the
approval of two thirds of the members of each house of the federal Parliament and of a simple majority within each
linguistic group (French-speaking and Dutch-speaking), in each house. Through the institutional changes passed in
recent decades, political players are seeking among other things to give the federated entities more autonomy and
achieve a new balance between the main linguistic groups within a Belgium united around a bilingual capital, Brussels.
Lastly, in the United Kingdom, the devolution of powers to the Parliament of Scotland and the Assemblies of Northern
Ireland and Wales is in particular a response to autonomy sentiment, especially in Scotland. In Italy, the decentralization
process, which was approved in a referendum in October 2001, is in response to expectations from the northern regions
demanding major reforms. 3.4. Asymmetries
In many of the countries studied, significant asymmetries are present in institutions and in...
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