Government s Role in Influencing Economic Growth and Productivity

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1 Government s Role in Influencing Economic Growth and Productivity PSMW :50 AM, May 26, 2014 Stuart Newton Comptroller General of BC

2 What is Economic Growth and Productivity? Economic Growth: - Gross Domestic Product (GDP) The final value of all the goods and services produced within a economy over time Productivity: - GDP divided by the number of hours worked over the same period of time 2

3 Why the Interest in GDP Growth? Increases in per capita GDP translate into increased incomes for business, governments and/ or individuals Rising incomes increase the ability to invest, spend and/or provide public services In general, growth in GDP results in increased well-being for members of society Productivity growth is essential to advancing living standards over the medium to long run 3

4 Is GDP A Good Measure? GDP is the most widely used economic indicator to measure economic growth or contraction Used as a proxy for measuring human welfare. Measures output Does not measure quality of the output Does not measure social progress or human happiness 4

5 Is GDP A Good Measure? What is included? What is not included? Distribution of income Sustainability Alternative Measures 5

6 Who Is Responsible for Increasing Improving productivity is complex Productivity? Business enterprises are primarily responsible Public policy plays a role Productivity is difficult to measure and is therefore a difficult policy target 6

7 What Can Governments Do? Government can do a lot: Define markets Utilize fiscal and tax policy 7

8 What Policies or Actions by Governments Might Work? Labour Market Policies: Increase labour force participation rates Increase labour force source population 8

9 What Policies or Actions by Governments Foster Economic Development: Interprovincial trade agreements Interprovincial credential recognition Might Work? Mutual recognition with other jurisdictions on regulations to reduce duplication 9

10 What Policies or Actions by Governments Might Work? Foster Economic Development: International trade agreements International trade missions Reduction of transaction costs Partnerships with First Nations 10

11 What Policies or Actions by Governments Foster Economic Development: Might Work? Streamline and modernize regulatory processes Promote the export of goods and services Foster the growth of high productivity industries Develop policies and strategies that lead to more investment by business 11

12 What Policies or Actions by Governments Might Work? Productive Investment by Business and Government: Investments in the health and education of citizens Investments in science, technology, research and knowledge dissemination Investments in information Investments in infrastructure 12

13 What Policies or Actions by Governments Might Work? Government Expenditures and Revenues A focus on fiscal restraint is not a growth strategy Tax cuts Reducing expenditures that do not contribute to economic growth Firm size 13

14 What Policies or Actions by Governments Income Equality Might Work? Greater income equality may lead to higher spending People living in poverty do not contribute to the economy 14

15 What Kind of Economic Growth Do We Want? Economic growth and the associated costs and benefits: - We may need a broader concept of growth or economic/societal/environmental targets to supplement GDP - Need to consider the environmental and economic cost of GDP growth 15

16 Does Government Really Have Influence? Government creates a stable, competitive business environment that fosters economic growth Some laws, regulations, policies and programs inhibit unwanted types of economic activity Government stewardship influences how natural resources are utilized 16

17 Does Government Really Have Influence? Economies are extremely complex It is difficult to measure the impact of some government programs Sometimes, an analysis of an initiative is not conducted Economists work with lag data and cannot see the impacts in real time 17

18 Does Government Really Have Influence? Two examples: Federal Tax Expenditures Federal/Provincial Stimulus Global recession began in 2007 $64 billion stimulus package (federal / provincial) Tax relief, infrastructure spending and expanded benefits and training for unemployed workers 18

19 Comments / Questions For additional information, please contact:

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