July 01, 2015

Fiscal Institutions in Latin America: Have They Worked?

Latin America

Posted by Bogdan Lissovolik and Marcos Poplawski-Ribeiro[1]

Latin America’s countercyclical response to the 2008–09 global financial crisis (GFC) was the right medicine at the time, but resulted in a significant fiscal stimulus that it has yet to be fully withdrawn. Does this mean that the fiscal institutions established in the region before the crisis were not the Holy Grail to enshrine discipline? A recent study sheds light on this question by looking at the performance and design of fiscal institutions in six large Latin American countries (LA6: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay). Overall, the crisis revealed both strengths and weaknesses in the fiscal frameworks in the LA6, underscoring the perils of making discretionary changes in fiscal policy without a medium-term anchor.

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June 29, 2015

A Very Short Introduction to Accounting

Posted by Tim Irwin[1]


Christopher Nobes’s Accounting: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2014) is about private not public financial management, but it may be of interest to people working on PFM.

For one thing, there are many similarities in the accounting problems faced by firms and governments, even if there are also crucial differences in their objectives, their functions, and their influence on the economies in which they are located. Moreover, Nobes offers a succinct and persuasive explanation of why private-sector accounting developed as it did, in response to the changing needs of businesses and their investors (e.g., why accounts payable and receivable were shown on balance sheets before cash and inventory). That explanation may prompt thoughts about how government accounting should develop.

For another, Nobes’s comments on the rise of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) suggest interesting parallels with the development of International Public Sector Accounting Standards. He writes (pp. 75–76),

  • The UK’s joining the EU was “the main spur to the setting up by accountants of the IASC [International Accounting Standards Committee, the forerunner of the IASB, or International Accounting Standards Board] to try to keep accounting out of the control of governments.”
  • “The EU had always been opposed to the IASC, as a Trojan horse of Anglo-American accounting, but eventually it accepted IFRS as the only practical way of getting harmonized standards for EU capital markets.”
  • “The inability of governments in Roman law countries (e.g. France) to give up control of accounting has led to constant attempts at interference from the EU in the operations of the IASB.”

Nobes also presents interesting data on the number of members of each of several national accounting bodies (pp. 5–6). The chart above expresses these numbers as percentages of each country’s population in 2013, rounded to the nearest decimal point. Nobes notes that international comparisons are “fraught with difficulties” (p. 7) and that there are accountants who are not members of accounting bodies. Nevertheless, the differences are striking. If they reflect differences in the influence of accountants in each country, they may help explain why the Australian and New Zealand governments were among the first to adopt private-sector-like accounting, while the German government has shown little interest in doing so.

[1] Senior Economist, PFM1 Division, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF 

 Note: The posts on the IMF PFM Blog should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy.

June 25, 2015

Developing Fiscal Risk Statements in Central Asia and the Caucasus

Posted by John Zohrab[1]

The new fiscal risk[2] provisions of the IMF’s revised Fiscal Transparency Code (English, العربية , Español, Français, Português) are resonating in Central Asia and the Caucasus. They are stimulating increased efforts to improve and expand fiscal risk disclosure.

Armenia, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan present fiscal risk statements to parliament in their annual budget documentation. These statements – which are typically published on the ministry of finance websites – are a substantial step forward in meeting international good practice (see table below).


To be specific:

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June 04, 2015

Finance Ministries in the 21st Century

Posted by Aarti Shah and Neil Cole[1]

Finance ministries throughout the world have a number of things in common. They are custodians of a country’s public finances. They also manage complex political processes and tend to attract smart people. Unsurprisingly, the job of a finance ministry official does not lend itself to popularity or friends amongst the public service fraternity. That may explain why when senior budget officials from a diverse range of countries are brought together, they have much to talk about.

Surprisingly, little has been written about how finance ministries operate, evolve, and adapt to ever-changing challenges. As part of a broader collaboration, three institutions currently thinking about capabilities (CABRI, ODI and the South African National Treasury) co-hosted a conference with the theme ‘Finance Ministries in the 21st Century’ in Johannesburg on 25 and 26 March 2015. Fifty-five participants from government, bilateral and multilateral development partners and other organizations[2] shared their experiences from over 20 countries on how finance ministries operate as organizations, and how they could do better.

Here are some highlights.

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June 03, 2015

Job Offer! Public Financial Management (PFM) Advisors, based in Africa (Job Number: 1500535)


The Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) of the International Monetary Fund is looking for qualified candidates to fill positions as Public Financial Management (PFM) Advisors to be based in Africa. The initial appointment term would be for a period of one year, on a renewable basis, subject to satisfactory performance.

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June 02, 2015

JICA’s Technical Cooperation in PFM: Key Principles


Posted by Tomoaki Tanaka[1]

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is the world’s largest bilateral development institution, with a budget in 2013 of more than one trillion yen. Out of this budget, 177 billion yen was disbursed on technical cooperation (TC), the remainder on overseas development loans and grants.[2] JICA’s operations cover a variety of sectors, such as Planning and Public Administration, Public Works (infrastructure), Agriculture, Education, Health & Medical Care, and Energy, Commerce & Tourism. JICA is represented in over 150 countries and regions, and has more than 100 overseas offices. Much of JICA’s TC is focused on South and South-Eastern Asia, but other regions where it is active include the Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe.

Public financial management (PFM) has become one of JICA’s most important areas of TC. In JICA’s view, effective PFM systems are fundamental to the development process. If such systems are not in place, the flow and control of financing for key development projects may be jeopardized.

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May 26, 2015

Mozambique’s Fiscal Transparency Evaluation


Posted by Xavier Rame, Delphine Moretti, and Esther Palacio[1]

The IMF has recently published a Fiscal Transparency Evaluation (FTE) report for Mozambique. (English/Português) This evaluation was the first to be undertaken in Africa. It shows that Mozambique has made substantial progress in making fiscal information available to the public, but highlights the scope for improvements to the budget documentation and fiscal reports, and further transparency on fiscal risks. The Mozambique FTE is one of ten pilots of the IMF’s new methodology for assessing countries’ fiscal transparency practices, and should help build a more complete picture of governments’ financial accountability practices around the world.

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May 20, 2015

Enhancing Fiscal Reporting & Transparency in East Africa

Afritac east logo


Posted by Amitabh Tripathi[1] 

East AFRITAC (AFE) countries[2] have been progressively improving their fiscal reporting practices. These practices have benefitted from wider reform efforts including strengthening of the PFM legal and regulatory frameworks, extending and enhancing the functionalities of IFMIS and progressive improvements in the timeliness and comprehensiveness of in-year and end-year fiscal reports. However, despite some notable improvements, the fiscal reporting function in many of the countries continues to underperform. Common problems include: unclear definition and classification of public entities in the legal framework that adversely impacts the coverage of fiscal reports; lack of timeliness and regularity in the publication of in-year reports and consolidated annual financial statements; failure to adopt internationally accepted standards; and inadequate reporting of expenditure arrears and contingent liabilities.   

These issues have become more significant in the context of the East African Monetary Union (EAMU) protocol that requires harmonization of PFM legal frameworks and fiscal reporting for partner countries, four of which are part of the AFE constituency. Accordingly, following requests from some of its member countries, AFE organized a four-day regional workshop on “Enhancing Fiscal Reporting and Transparency” in Arusha, Tanzania during April 2015. The workshop was attended by twenty-eight officials from the Ministries of Finance and Planning in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and Uganda.   

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May 08, 2015

GFSM 2014 – the Quest for Comparable Fiscal Data


Posted by Sagé de Clerck[1]

With the release of the 2012 IMF Board Decision on Bilateral and Multilateral Surveillance, the Fund’s Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, made a statement that: “In the current challenging and highly interconnected global economic environment, it is critical to have effective surveillance to enable the early detection of risks and provide timely policy advice.” What was not explicitly stated, but implicitly understood by all, is that such surveillance and policy advice in a globally interconnected world depend on the availability of accurate and timely statistical data. Such data should be relevant, accurate and timely, and allow comparisons to be made across different time periods, and different regions and countries.

How do we derive comparable fiscal data?

The Government Finance Statistics (GFS) frameworkprovides a potential solution to the challenges highlighted by Christine Lagarde, so far as the fiscal area is concerned.The 2001 version of GFS introduced an integrated framework of stocks and flows, concepts, definitions, and classifications. It assisted compilers to prepare and report fiscal data for policy making and analysis in a consistent and comparable manner. A further step forward has been made with the recent release of the 2014 version of the GFS manual (GFSM 2014).

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April 28, 2015

Job Offer! Resident Public Financial Management (PFM) Advisor (based in Belgrade, Serbia) (Job Number: 1500378)

  Job Offer


The Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) of the IMF is seeking a highly qualified expert to act as Resident Public Financial Management (PFM) Advisor, based in Belgrade (Serbia). The Advisor’s position would be for an initial period of one year starting June 30, 2015, with the potential for further extension.

The resident advisor will work within the Ministry of Finance to:

• Strengthen the budget preparation process by developing macro-fiscal capacities; broaden budget preparation and analysis; improve medium-term baseline espenditure methodologies; develop medium-term policy costing processes; and integrate the top-down macro-fiscal forecasts and bottom-up expenditure baseline estimates.

• Build fiscal risk assessment capacity by building the analytical and reporting capabilities of a new fiscal risk unit; develop the capability to assess and report on PPP projects; guide collections and analysis of arrears data; and incorporate financial analysis of state owned enterprises into the budget process.

• Provide general assistance in PFM reforms by assisting the coordination and monitoring of the PFM reform program; assist in the migration of budget analysis and decision making processes to the program budget environment; and working with the regional PFM advisor to provide additional assistance as required.


Applicants should hold a university degree or equivalent qualification relevant to the above duties; possess excellent written and oral communication skills in English; have well developed analytical and research skills; be proficient in standard office IT applications (such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel), and have experience in project management.

Applicants should also possess excellent interpersonal skills, be self-motivating and have an ability to work as part of a team, an aptitude for establishing cooperative relations and sharing technical knowledge with national authorities, as well as capacity to handle sensitive issues with discretion. A flexible and adaptable approach will also be essential in what is a fast moving and challenging work environment.

Preference will be given to candidates with at least ten years of relevant experience, including in a senior or advisory position within a ministry of finance, treasury, or related institution, who have managed or participated in the delivery of TA programs in the above PFM areas. Experience of working in countries with IMF supported programs and/or of working in the region would also be an advantage.

The IMF is committed to achieving a diverse staff, including gender, nationality, culture and educational background.

 Note: The posts on the IMF PFM Blog should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy.

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