January 17, 2017

The French General Inspectorate of Finance


Posted by Grégoire Tirot[1]

Created in 1797, the Inspection générale des finances (IGF – General Inspectorate of Finance) is a high level consulting and auditing service that is part of the French Ministry of Finance and Economy. In 1831, during the reign of Louis-Philippe, Baron Louis, Minister of Finance at that time, made the IGF the only body of control of his ministry: "The IGF is the arm and eye of the minister," he wrote. Today the IGF works not only for the Minister of Finance and Economy but for the entire government.

The IGF is considered as one of the three most prestigious organs of the French State (“Grands corps de l’Etat”), along with the Council of State (“Conseil d’Etat” which is the highest administrative jurisdiction in France) and the Court of Auditors (“Court des comptes”). Since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958, one president of the Republic (Valéry Giscard d’Estaing) and four Prime Ministers have come from the IGF.

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January 13, 2017

Top Ten PFM Blog Posts of 2016


Posted by Richard Allen and Kyle Axberg[1]

2016 was an exceptional year for the PFM blog, with readership levels increasing by about 50 percent over the last 12 months. The diversity of our articles, authors and readers has also increased. More than 60 articles were published on the blog during 2016. Nearly half of these articles were written by external contributors from a wide range of organizations in the public sector, academia, and the private sector. Topics ranged widely, sometimes stretching the boundaries of any recognized definition of PFM.

The articles included, for example, an extended interview with Trevor Manuel, celebrated former finance minister of South Africa, and pieces on topics such as accrual budgeting in Kazakhstan, innovative ways to fight HIV/AIDS, sharing natural resource revenues, the timing of a country’s fiscal year, how to make budget documents transparent, spending reviews in the EU, the new PEFA framework, IPSAS, accounting reforms in India, transparency and corruption (two pieces from the Anti-Corruption Summit in London), dispelling fiscal illusion, the capabilities of finance ministries, just to name a few.

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January 11, 2017

Implementing a Public Services Cost System in São Paulo (Brazil)


Posted by Mario Pessoa and Gerardo Uña[1]

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The Government of the State of São Paulo, Brazil, is implementing a sophisticated new public services costs system (PSCS). The system aims to improve the efficiency of public services, strengthen budget realism, generate savings, and increase the transparency of public spending. The PSCS seeks to influence both the macro level of budget management, and decisions at the micro level, i.e., in relation to the final services provided to citizens by each cost center. For example, in the case of the State Secretariat of Education (SSE), PSCS would calculate the costs associated with the provision of basic education per pupil at the level of each of the 5,500 schools, each of which is a center cost. In the case of the Secretary of Penitentiary Administration, cost reports for each of the 166 state penitentiaries are routinely produced by PSCS already.

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January 09, 2017

Public Investment Management in East/West Africa – Self-Assessment


Posted by Kubai Khasiani[1]

  • A recent PFM Blog article discussed a workshop on public investment management (PIM) for the countries of Southern Africa organized by the IMF’s technical assistance center, AFRITAC South. A similar workshop took place recently in Kigali, Rwanda, for 13 countries of East and West Africa[2]. The workshop was planned against the background of increased infrastructure investment in the region, especially in power generation, transport (air, rail and roads), telecommunications, water, and sanitation. During the workshop, the participants completed a self-assessment based on the IMF’s Public Investment Management Assessment (PIMA) tool (please attach the linkimf.org/publicinvestment). The PIMA framework is divided into three broad areas, covering the planning, allocation and implementation of public investment projects, and 15 institutions, each of which has three dimensions, making 45 dimensions in total. The summary scores are shown below.

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January 05, 2017

Reconciling a “True and Fair” View of Public Accounting with Realities


Posted by Johann Seiwald[1]

The fourth meeting of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) Board in 2016 was held in Stellenbosch, South Africa from December 6-9, 2016. As usual, the meeting focused on the board’s core business of setting accounting standards for the public sector. The agenda covered a broad range of technical accounting topics such as heritage assets, revenues and non-exchange transactions, leases, financial instruments, social benefits, and public sector combination. But issues of more general interest were also discussed.

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January 03, 2017

Guatemala: Fiscal Transparency Evaluation


Posted by Mario Pessoa[1]

The International Monetary Fund has published a Fiscal Transparency Evaluation (FTE) report for Guatemala.

In many areas Guatemala performs well against the standards set by the IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Code. Some eight of the Code’s 36 principles are rated as either “good” or “advanced,” 17 principles are rated as “basic,” and in ten areas the basic requirements of the Code are “not met.” One dimension was not assessed, as there are no existing public-private partnership contracts in Guatemala.

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December 22, 2016

Improved Public Investment Planning Leads to More Realistic Cost Estimates


Posted by Eivind Tandberg[1]

The IMF and other development institutions are involved in analysis and technical assistance related to public investment management in many different countries. The IMF’s new Public Investment Management Assessment tool (PIMA) has been applied in about 20 countries, and many countries are pursuing reforms to enhance the quality of their public investment.

One important consideration for countries that get involved in such efforts is to what extent structural and policy changes in public investment practices lead to tangible improvements, including more realistic cost estimates, less delays, and enhanced project benefits. A study from Norway, which has been working to improve its public investment framework for the last 15 years, indicates that such improvements do materialize but that this takes time.

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December 19, 2016

Public Sector Accounting Reform in the EU


Posted by Martin Manuzi and Simon Tosserams[1]

High quality public services, democratic accountability, intergenerational fairness, and financial stability are just some of the key issues that people all over the world value, and depend heavily on good public sector accounting. Modern and transparent reporting is the cornerstone of effective management of public finances – and thereby critical for any country’s economic sustainability. 

The financial crisis led to austerity policies in many countries and an increased focus on better financial management in the public sector. It also resulted in the widespread acknowledgement of deficiencies in the financial information reported by EU governments, which were deemed insufficient to make a fair assessment of risk. Today government securities, whether in the EU or around the world, are no longer perceived as risk-free, and their proper rating and valuation is hampered by the opaqueness of public sector reporting. The EU can play an essential part in championing reforms in this area, which require both new legislation and institutional change. 

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December 16, 2016

Debt Sustainability Challenges in Resource-Rich Developing Countries


A Guest Blog Post Authored by David Mihalyi at NRGI

Readers of the PFM Blog will be interested in a new article by the Natural Resources Governance Institute on debt sustainability challenges in resource-rich countries. The Institute has submitted comments to the IMF and World Bank on how their debt sustainability framework can better address the challenges that many developing countries are facing in light of low commodity prices.

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December 15, 2016

Spending Reviews in the European Union

Spending Reviews

Posted by Claude Wendling[1]

Spending reviews have become an increasingly popular tool in the European Union since the global financial crisis of 2007-08. A major policy lesson stemming from the crisis is indeed the need to enhance expenditure performance, which can be defined as the reinforced connection between funding decisions and policy priorities (shall this or that policy be funded with public money?) and subsequently between funding levels and results delivered to end-users (what is the value for public money?). Spending reviews seeking a 'smarter' expenditure allocation across national policy priorities - based on a selective and sustainable expenditure-based fiscal consolidation - appear to European policymakers as a particularly valuable instrument in this respect. A European Commission paper authored by Caroline Vandierendonck in July 2014 provides in this respect useful insights on the design, conduct and implementation of spending reviews and their development in Europe  (http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/economic_paper/2014/ecp525_en.htm).

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