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La Administración Pública como instrumento para construir lo colectivo

Por: Ricardo Castaneda Ancheta

Las discusiones en los últimos siglos se podrían resumir en torno a cuál es el papel que deben jugar los Estados en la sociedad. Desde posiciones que abogan por su reducción al mínimo, como el neoliberalismo, hasta expresiones ideológicas que apuestan por su involucramiento en todos los contextos sociales. En todo caso, en pleno siglo XXI, la idea del Estado efectivo, capaz de mejorar el bienestar social y económico, es la que se plantea como la mejor alternativa frente a la democracia y el desarrollo.

Guillermo O’Donnell plantea que un Estado democrático es aquel que tiene el poder para alcanzar sus cometidos y este poder es fácilmente medible por medio de la capacidad infraestructural que en la práctica se relaciona con la producción de bienes y servicios públicos (educación, salud, seguridad, justicia, protección social) necesarios para garantizar el Estado de derecho y cumplir con sus obligaciones constitucionales.

Cuando se analiza cuál es la situación del poder infraestructural de los países centroamericanos frente al resto de la región latinoamericana y sobre todo con los países desarrollados, los resultados son bastante desalentadores.

Centroamérica cuenta con aparatos institucionales poco propicios para la democracia. Estados que bien podrían ser considerados bonsái, por el tamaño que poseen. Por un lado, al analizar el gasto del Gobierno General como porcentaje del PIB se aprecia que en promedio los países Centroamérica tiene un sector público de 21.9%, lejos del 33.7% que tiene Latinoamérica en su conjunto y del 40% de los países desarrollados. Guatemala es el ejemplo más dramático donde el Gobierno Central apenas representa el 13.4% del total de la economía.

Otro elemento que visibiliza la poca capacidad infraestructural de los Estados centroamericanos es la cantidad de impuestos que recaudan. Uno de los mayores mitos en materias fiscal es que en los países centroamericanos pagan muchos impuestos; empero, los datos muestran algo distinto. En promedio, en la región, incluyendo seguridad social, la carga tributaria es del 18.6%, menor al 21.7% del promedio latinoamericano y del 34.4% de los países de los países más desarrollados. A esto hay que añadirle la regresividad de cargas tributarias basadas en impuestos indirectos, relacionados con el consumo. Tal y como está diseñado el financiamiento de los Estados centroamericanos la política fiscal incide de forma negativa en los deciles más bajos de ingreso, revirtiendo los efectos positivos que tiene el gasto público, al reducir la desigualdad social.

En cuanto al gasto público, en 2014, las inversiones públicas por estudiante fueron equivalentes a USD237 en Centroamérica, inferior a los USD450 que destina América Latina y los USD2,000 que invierten los países desarrollados. Al analizar el gasto en salud, el panorama se hace más sombrío. En 2014 los Estados centroamericanos destinaron, en promedio, USD471.8 por cada habitante, en Latinoamérica alcanzó los USD714.8, muy lejos de USD5,520.1 de los países desarrollados. La insuficiente inversión en educación y salud, provoca entre otros fenómenos, menos posibilidades de empleo, más desigualdad y debilita las expectativas que los ciudadanos tienen sobre la vida en democracia.

Es por ello que para que la sociedad centroamericana pueda tener una respuesta concreta frente a los problemas económicos, políticos y sociales que la aquejan, se hace necesario la búsqueda de nuevos pactos sociales y fiscales que reivindiquen la importancia de la Administración Pública, como espacio catalizador de las esperanzas ciudadanas, y de los planes económicos y políticos que fomenten la transformación productiva y el empleo, la búsqueda de la igualdad y el fortalecimiento de un Estado más transparente y rendidor de cuentas.

Hoy más que nunca, la respuesta a los múltiples problemas que aquejan a la región centroamericana pasa por tener una Administración Pública fuerte, efectiva y con sentido de democracia. Y esto solo será posible con una ciudadanía que comprende que las posibilidades de cerrar las brechas de la desigualdad y la exclusión pasan por alcanzar el bienestar individual a partir del bienestar colectivo. Lo colectivo que se plasma en las carreteras que se transitan, las escuelas que educan o los hospitales que sanan. Los centroamericanos deben comprender que lo público es el espacio de encuentro como sociedad, por lo que hay celebrarlo y defenderlo, como la paz y la democracia, ingredientes esenciales para alcanzar el desarrollo.

Tabla 1: Poder infraestructural de los Estados centroamericanos frente a América Latina y el promedio de los países miembros de la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económicos (OCDE), 2014

  Costa Rica El Salvador Guatemala Honduras Nicaragua Panamá Centroamérica América Latina OCDE

Tamaño del Gobierno General como porcentaje del PIB

19.6 21.3 13.4 28.7 24.8 23.6 21.9 33.7 40.0
Ingresos tributarios – incluye seguridad social- como porcentaje del PIB 22.5 16.5 12.6 19.8 20.3 20.1 18.6 21.7 34.4
Gasto en educación por persona (USD) 693.0 116.0 96.0 135.0 69.0 313.0 237.0 450.0 2,000.0
Estudiantes por docente en educación primaria 13.2 24.5 23.0 13.7 30.2 25.5 21.7 22.0 15.9
Gasto en salud por persona (USD) 970.0 279.6 232.6 212.3 177.5 959.0 471.8 714.8 5,520.1
Médicos por cada 1,000 habitantes (alrededor de 2013) 1.1 1.6 0.9 0.4 0.9 1.7 1.1 2.0 2.8
Fuente: Icefi con base en el World Economic Outlook del Fondo Monetario Internacional, la base de datos del Banco Mundial, estadísticas tributarias en América Latina OCDE-CIAT-CEPAL-BID y, estadísticas del Estado de la Región.

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