Journal of Public Finance Studies
A Discussion on the Nature of Insurance Premium Incentives Applied in Turkey: Public Expenditure or Premium Expenditure?Mehmet Bulut
Insurance premium incentives are an essential active employment policy in the fight against unemployment. They are also relevant to achieving many financial and social policy objectives. With insurance premium incentives, the premium burden on the employer and/or the insured is reduced, and the goal is to achieve results, such as protecting existing employment, reducing unemployment, preventing unregistered employment, introducing policies for certain sectors and regions, and providing employment for specific groups of people. Therefore, achieving these goals can only be possible if the incentive system is applicable, concise, and accurate in scope. Turkey currently has 17 different insurance premium incentives implemented, most of which are public expenditures and they carry challenges, such as lack of inter-institutional coordination, technical and legal challenges, and complexity in practice. In this study, explanations were given regarding the determination of the nature of insurance premium incentives applied in Turkey, as well as the observed challenges. Furthermore, the concept of premium expenditure was employed for the first time in an academic study in Turkey, and a comparison was made with the concept of public expenditures, and thus, making this study significant in terms of finance literature.
Türkiye’de Uygulanan Sigorta Prim Teşviklerinin Niteliği Üzerine Bir Tartışma: Kamu Harcaması mı, Prim Harcaması mı?Mehmet Bulut
Sigorta prim teşvikleri işsizlikte mücadelede önemli bir aktif istihdam politikasıdır. Bunun yanı sıra birçok mali ve sosyal politika amaçlarının gerçekleştirilmesi için de kullanılmaktadırlar. Sigorta prim teşvikleri ile işveren ve/veya sigortalı üzerindeki prim yükü azaltılmakta ve bu sayede mevcut istihdamın korunması, işsizliğin azaltılması, kayıtdışı istihdamın önlenmesi, belirli sektör ve bölgelere yönelik politikalar ortaya konulması, spesifik kişi gruplarının istihdamının sağlanması gibi sonuçlara ulaşılması hedeflenmektedir. Söz konusu hedeflerde başarılı olunması ise teşvik sisteminin uygulanabilir, basit ve kapsamının doğru olması ile mümkündür. Sigorta prim teşviklerinde önemli olan noktalardan birisi de prim gelirinde azalma olan sosyal güvenlik kuruluşu ile teşviki finanse eden kuruluşun aynı olup olmamasıdır. Bu durum sigorta prim teşvikinin niteliğini belirlemede anahtar öneme sahiptir ve kamu harcaması ya da prim harcaması olarak nitelendirilmesini sağlamaktadır. 2022 yılı itibariyle Türkiye’de 17 farklı sigorta prim teşviki uygulanmakta olup bunların çoğu kamu harcaması niteliğindedir ve kurumlararası koordinasyon eksikliği, uygulamada ortaya çıkan teknik ve hukuki zorluklar, karmaşıklık gibi sıkıntıları bünyelerinde barındırmaktadırlar. Bu çalışmamızda Türkiye’de uygulanan sigorta prim teşviklerinin niteliğinin belirlenmesine yönelik açıklamalarda bulunulmuş ve gözlemlenen sorunlar paylaşılmıştır. Ayrıca ilk defa Türkiye’deki bir akademik çalışmada prim harcaması kavramı kullanılmış ve kamu harcamaları kavramı ile kıyaslama yapılmış olup çalışmamız bu açıdan maliye literatürü açısından önem arz etmektedir.
In Turkey, insurance premium incentives are an essential active employment policy tool with a wild range of applications. Hence, the number of insurance premium incentive regulations currently in effect has reached 17. These incentives basically have main purposes such as protecting the existing employment of the workplaces and preventing unemployment, providing additional employment, encouraging entrepreneurship, increasing the employment of young, women and those with vocational certificates, and employment of disadvantaged groups. It has also served other purposes such as ensuring that employers fully fulfill their social security obligations, preventing unregistered employment and fake insurance, preventing work accidents, supporting occupational health and safety services, supporting specific initiatives such as research, development, and design activities, as well as cultural investments. However, it also emerged as an essential fiscal and social policy tool besides being an effective employment policy tool.
It is essential for the success of insurance premium incentives that incentive arrangements are applicable, not dispersed, and the targeted segment and financial source are determined correctly. Therefore, the nature of the insurance premium incentive must be determined correctly and appropriate remedies created. Thus, in determining the nature of these incentives, two concepts emerge as public and premium expenditures. Most insurance premium incentives applied in Turkey are like economic or social transfer expenditure, which is a type of public expenditure, as it does not reduce the budget of the relevant social security institution and is financed by other ministries/institutions. Consequently, work accident incentives, national mobilization (additional employment) incentives, and incentives to support work and social security services can be qualified as premium expenditures since they reduce the premium income of the relevant social security administration.
The significance of insurance premium incentives in terms of protection, growth, and sustainability of employment is undeniable. However, failure to properly design these incentives and the emergence of challenges in implementation can result in both failure to meet the targeted objectives and waste of public resources. Thus, it is vital to monitor insurance premium incentives, periodically analyze their benefits, and discontinue the application of ineffective incentives. Nevertheless, it is impossible to compare or evaluate the effectiveness of complex incentive practices regulated by different laws in Turkey, where the implementers and supporters are diverse institutions. No structure ensures the coordination between the institutions that implement the incentives and institutions that provide the funds. Hence, the relationship between these institutions is limited to the transfer of funds from the budget. Therefore, it is considered that establishing an incentive coordination unit that will allow the collective monitoring and analysis of insurance premium incentives, reveal their effectiveness, and measure their performance, will be beneficial.
In Turkey, most financing sources of insurance premium incentives are different ministries instead of the implementing social security administration, in other words, the incentives are public expenditures, and the research and follow-up of the efficiency of the incentives are seen as an unnecessary burden, leading to populist policies. Although the financing source of insurance premium incentives is not the Social Security Institution budget, which can be sustained with budget transfers, it can be handled positively, but it poses some challenges. Some of these challenges are that the Social Security Institution is excluded from the process, except for technical challenges, in the determination of incentive policies, statistical data is not shared with the public, and incentive legislation becomes dispersed and difficult to implement. In many incentives, it is seen that the source of financing is the unemployment insurance fund, whereas the unemployment insurance fund was established to provide financial support and job placement for certain periods and conditions, the unemployment insurance fund is exposed to criticism because it serves the purpose of reducing the financial burden of employers with insurance premium incentives. As a matter of fact, this situation causes insurance premium incentives to become a public expenditure and the amounts accumulated in the unemployment insurance fund to melt out of purpose. In this study, explanations were made regarding the determination of the nature of insurance premium incentives applied in Turkey and the observed problems were shared. In addition, for the first time in an academic study in Turkey, the concept of premium expenditure was used and tried to be explained.