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Competitividad, crecimiento y bienestar social en Suecia. ¿Cómo lo hacen?

En una reciente entrevista para la agencia Bloomberg , la ministra Magdalena Andersson, quien gestiona las finanzas públicas suecas desde 2014, conversó sobre los tres principales elementos que permiten a este país nórdico tener una exitosa inserción económica internacional y uno de los mejores estándares de vida del mundo: crear empleos, contar con un sistema robusto de protección social y redistribuir la riqueza.

Conviene hacer una revisión de los logros alcanzados por Suecia desde 2014. Primero, el crecimiento real promedio de la economía de Suecia de 2014 a 2017 ha sido de 3.1%, es decir un 55% más alto que el promedio registrado en similar período de tiempo por los países más avanzados del orbe agrupados en la OCDE (Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico). La balanza en cuenta corriente (diferencia entre el valor de las exportaciones e importaciones de bienes y servicios) muestra un saldo positivo de 4.9% del PIB, mientras el promedio de la OCDE se sitúa en 0.3%.

En cuanto a la fuerza laboral, esta suma 5.2 millones de personas, de las cuales el 47.4% son mujeres. La tasa de desempleo se ha reducido del 7.7%, en el cuarto trimestre del 2014, al 7.1% en el mismo trimestre de 2016. A criterio de la ministra Andersson, la alta participación de hombres y mujeres en el mercado laboral, tiene relación con guarderías asequibles y prestaciones para padres financiadas con impuestos. Por otro lado, en el modelo económico sueco, se permite que las empresas fracasen si no pueden competir. Sin embargo, este pragmatismo va acompañado de una red de seguridad social, capacitación para los trabajadores desempleados y políticas activas en el mercado de trabajo. Es importante notar que el 25.8% de la fuerza laboral de Suecia trabaja en el sector público (1.3 millones de trabajadores), y en 2015, el 72% de los empleos públicos (966,000 puestos) estaban ocupados por mujeres.

Obviamente, la política fiscal es la herramienta que permite articular estos elementos en función del bienestar social y el desarrollo. En 2015 el presupuesto de gasto público del gobierno general de Suecia representó el 50.2% del producto interno bruto (PIB). El rubro con mayor peso fue la protección social (41.6% del presupuesto total), seguido de servicios generales, educación y salud.

En ese mismo año, los ingresos totales del Estado sueco equivalieron al 50.5% del PIB, mientras la recaudación de impuestos representó el 43.1% del PIB. La estructura tributaria está definida por tres pilares: los impuestos sobre los ingresos, utilidades y rentas de capital, que representaron en 2015 el 35.8% de la recaudación total; los impuestos sobre bienes y servicios que aportan el 30.3% del total recaudado, y las contribuciones a la seguridad social y el impuesto a la nómina laboral que aporta otro 35.4% de la recaudación.

El tamaño de la política fiscal en este país permite tener un significativo efecto redistribuidor del ingreso, tanto por medio del gasto público como por los impuestos. La mayoría de hogares pagan impuestos y reciben beneficios, con un sentido de progresividad: quien tiene menos ingresos, recibe más beneficios y viceversa.

Los datos fiscales suecos desafían las opiniones predominantes en Centroamérica, basadas en la idea de que el éxito económico depende del mantenimiento de un Estado mínimo, con un modelo de bienestar residual (mínima protección social) y enfocado en mantener buenas condiciones macroeconómicas, con niveles de desempleo y salarios que cambian en función de la competitividad de la producción frente al mercado externo.

Por un lado, Suecia está posicionada entre las 10 economías más competitivas del orbe, de acuerdo con el índice de competitividad global (reporte 2015/2016) . En el Doing business, publicación insignia del Banco Mundial para medir qué tanto las regulaciones favorecen o no la actividad empresarial, Suecia destaca en el lugar 9 de 190 países . Asimismo, el Índice de desarrollo humano, en su informe de 2016, revela que este país está en la posición número 15 de más alto desarrollo. El índice de percepción de la corrupción en su más reciente publicación posicionó a Suecia entre las cinco naciones

con menor percepción de corrupción. Por su parte, en los estudios de percepción sobre los impuestos realizados periódicamente por la administración tributaria sueca, revelan que el 40% de la ciudadanía y el 39% de las empresas están a gusto con el sistema tributario (la estructura, el tamaño de los impuestos y las normas impositivas); otro 35 y 39%, respectivamente, han manifestado no estar en desacuerdo; finalmente, un 25% de los ciudadanos y 22% de las empresas revelan desacuerdo con el sistema tributario.

El éxito de Suecia, y de los países nórdicos, tanto en materia económica como social, ha sido resultado de una agenda política y económica puesta en marcha desde la tercera década del siglo XX. Con algunas variaciones a lo largo del tiempo, cinco son los pilares de este estilo de desarrollo . Primero, sobre la democracia, esta tiene que forjarse en lo político, pero también en lo social y económico. Segundo, la idea de comunidad que fortalece principios de solidaridad e igualdad. Tercero, la complementariedad entre la igualdad socioeconómica y la eficacia económica. Es decir, la política social no solo busca la igualdad, también persigue la eficiencia de la actividad económica. La política social también está dirigida al perfeccionamiento de las cualidades de cada persona. Cuarto, control social de la economía de mercado. El mercado es un mecanismo para la asignación de recursos económicos, pero condicionado a política económica basada en la productividad e innovación, políticas salariales, impuestos progresivos y política social. Finalmente, el sector público como camino para ampliar la libertad de elegir. Por medio de la política social se mejora la seguridad y libertad de los ciudadanos. Por ejemplo, las pensiones reducen el riesgo de vejez; la política habitacional mitiga los tugurios.

El ejemplo de Suecia es útil para que los políticos, los empresarios, los trabajadores y la ciudadanía centroamericana en general comprendan que es posible construir una sociedad competitiva sin sacrificar el bienestar de las personas. Asimismo, toca reflexionar sobre el importante rol que debe desempeñar la administración pública al calzar objetivos personales con agendas sociales y económicas de Nación. Finalmente, no se puede olvidar que la política fiscal plasma el tipo de sociedad que se desea construir. De ahí la importancia de promover en Centroamérica nuevos acuerdos sociales y económicos que también queden expresados en el monto y la forma de recaudar impuestos, en el gasto público y los resultados de desarrollo que se persiguen y en la forma en que se rendirá cuentas.

 


1- Para acceder a la entrevista véase: https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-07/a-reverse-trump-tax-plan-delivers-an-economic-miracle-in-sweden

2- Véase el The Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016 en http://www3.weforum.org/docs/gcr/2015-2016/Global_Competitiveness_Report_2015-2016.pdf.

3- Véase el informe Doing Business 2017, Igualdad para Todos en http://espanol.doingbusiness.org/~/media/WBG/DoingBusiness/Documents/Annual-Reports/English/DB17-Full-Report.pdf

4- Véase https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2016.

5- Véase el informe de la Agencia sueca de impuestos, Taxes in Sweden. Tax Statistical Yearbook of Sweden 2015 en: http://www.skatteverket.se/download/18.3810a01c150939e893f29d0f/1455280476021/taxes-in-sweden-skv104-utgava16.pdf

6- Las siguientes líneas sintetizan y parafrasean en algunos casos, lo expuesto por Sánchez de Dios, Manuel, en su estudio del modelo sueco de estado de bienestar.

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