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September 2011

September 30, 2011

Experience Sharing Conference on “Better Cash Management Through Treasury Single Account”, Kathmandu

Posted by Udaya Pant, FAD Resident Advisor in Nepal

Nepal organized a 2 day experience sharing workshop on cash management practices in the South Asia Region. The workshop was organized under the aegis of the Association of Government Accounts Organizations of Asia (AGAOA).[1]  Inaugurating the conference, the finance minister of Nepal suggested exploring possibilities for setting up a regional PFM capacity building and training facility for the region, and networking of the national PFM institutions. Speaking at the occasion, the chief secretary and the finance secretary supported the idea and emphasized the need for such regional cooperation initiatives and experience sharing.

The business session started with Nepal presenting its experience of implementing a treasury single account (TSA). The benefits, challenges, and the lessons learnt from this ongoing task were highlighted. India presented their ambitious initiative on ‘just-in-time’ cash release to subnational governments and grass root level implementing agencies. In India, central ministries release developmental grants under social and infrastructure sector plan schemes to the state and local governments. Funds are released through two routes: (i) to the state governments for further transfers to district/village level implementing agencies (multi-tier transfers), and (ii) directly to the implementing agencies. The grants are tied to scheme objectives and activities, and usually require a counterpart contribution from the respective state governments. The central government transfers nearly INR 300 billion every year to the lower-level implementing agencies under its 785 plan schemes.

Continue reading "Experience Sharing Conference on “Better Cash Management Through Treasury Single Account”, Kathmandu" »

September 29, 2011

"The Overall Evaluation of the Performance of the PEFA Programme is a Resoundingly Positive One"

Posted by Michel Lazare

"The overall evaluation of the performance of the PEFA programme is a resoundingly positive one" is the first sentence in the main findings section of executive summary of the recently published independent evaluation report of the PEFA programme.

In November 2010, the Steering Committee launched an independent evaluation of the  PEFA Program, covering the period 2004 to 2010. The evaluation was undertaken by a team of consultants led by Andrew Lawson, and the final report has now been completed and is available on the PEFA website (www.pefa.org) or clicking on the following link: Download PEFAEvaluationRevisedFinalReportJuly2011[1].

The report notes a number of markedly positive achievements of the PEFA programme. Lets just mention the following three: (a) "Across the world 90 per cent of low income, 75 per cent of middle income and 8 per cent of high income countries had been assessed, were in the process of assessment or were going to be assessed by October 2010;" (b) "The PEFA Programme has succeeded in creating a credible framework for the assessment of PFM functionality, which manages to be comprehensive in its coverage and yet sufficiently simple for the non-technical user to understand;" and (c) "The PEFA assessment framework is now used by all major development agencies working with PFM systems, either as a tool to support the design and monitoring of PFM reforms or as a key element of fiduciary risk assessment processes."

 

Continue reading ""The Overall Evaluation of the Performance of the PEFA Programme is a Resoundingly Positive One"" »

September 26, 2011

Addressing Fiscal Challenges to Reduce Economic Risks, Fiscal Monitor, September 2011

Posted by Martine Guerguil

FM 
While fiscal accounts in many advanced economies have strengthened in the last couple of years, financial markets remain anxious about the ability of country authorities to reduce public debt and deficits while supporting economic activity and employment. This is one theme of the latest issue of the IMF’s flagship fiscal publication, the Fiscal Monitor.

The slower-than-expected recovery makes the challenges particularly acute in major advanced economies. Should the macroeconomic environment deteriorate substantially, countries with more fiscal space could choose a more back-loaded profile of adjustment toward unchanged medium-term targets to help support the economy; countries under severe market pressure have no option but to maintain their fiscal adjustment plans.

More specifically, although many countries in the euro area have made good progress in reducing high deficits and specifying medium-term plans and have committed to enhancing fiscal institutions, markets remain concerned about fiscal sustainability. The priority is thus to bolster confidence and credibility through a combination of steadfast implementation of fiscal decisions and pro-growth measures, adequate financing, and the strengthening of the regional crisis management framework.

Continue reading "Addressing Fiscal Challenges to Reduce Economic Risks, Fiscal Monitor, September 2011" »

September 24, 2011

Carlo Cottarelli, Director of the International Monetary Fund's Fiscal Affairs Department, Speaks about U.S. Fiscal Policy and the European Sovereign-Debt Crisis.

Cottarelli2 

On Friday September 23, Carlo Cottarelli, the Director of the International Monetary Fund's Fiscal Affairs Department, spoke with Tom Keene on Bloomberg Television's "Surveillance Midday" about U.S. fiscal policy and the European sovereign-debt crisis.

To watch this 8-minute video, please click on this link.

September 23, 2011

Promotional Video for "Chipping Away at Public Debt—What Failed and What Worked in Past Attempts at Fiscal Adjustment"

In our July 25 blog post, Mauricio Villafuerte presented a new book from the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD): Chipping Away at Public Debt—Sources of Failure and Keys to Success in Fiscal Adjustment, edited by Paolo Mauro, with a foreword by FAD’s Director, Carlo Cottarelli; published by Wiley; available in hardback and e-book.

A promotional video for the book is now available:

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.

September 21, 2011

IMF Publishes 2011 FAD Brochure

FAD Brochure 2011 1 
Since 1964, the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) of the International Monetary Fund has been a leading source of fiscal policy and management expertise worldwide. FAD monitors and analyzes global and regional fiscal trends; advises IMF member countries on fiscal issues directly or in close cooperation with the IMF area departments; and contributes to the design and implementation of IMF-supported programs. FAD’s analysis and research are at the forefront of fiscal policy debates. Its recent work has contributed to the discussion on fiscal policy options to address fiscal challenges in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Each year, FAD staff and experts provide advisory services to about 130 IMF member countries covering advanced, emerging, and low-income economies.

FAD supports the IMF’s interactions with member countries by assigning some 50 fiscal economists to IMF surveillance and program teams. More countries are covered through ad hoc participation in area department missions. In addition to analyzing broad fiscal developments, these economists conduct in-depth analysis of macrofiscal and structural fiscal issues in the countries to which they are assigned. In carrying out their tasks, FAD economists draw on the extensive fiscal expertise of FAD as a whole. Their analysis forms part of the IMF staff’s reporting on the member countries concerned.

Continue reading "IMF Publishes 2011 FAD Brochure" »

Interview with Professor Allen Schick

By Carla Sateriale

Part 2 of a series of interviews with leading experts in PFM

What does PFM mean to you?

PFM is a way of organizing and thinking about reforms that would otherwise be unrelated. It’s a way of connecting a lot of dots: accounting, auditing, budgeting, financial planning, fiscal risk analysis, and fiscal rules, to name a few.  It’s easy to see each of them in isolation, but PFM ties them together and allows you to see them in a more holistic way. 

Do you think there are quintessential skills a PFM professional needs to have?

Ideally a PFM professional would have two main skill sets. The first skill set is relevant to the accounting, information systems, and auditing aspects—these deal with generating, compiling and interpreting the core data of PFM.  The other skill set deals with the analytical side of PFM. However, individuals typically come to it from one side or the other. There tend to be different perspectives in the PFM community among those who come to it from economics versus those who come to it from accounting and related fields.

Continue reading "Interview with Professor Allen Schick " »

September 20, 2011

Job Offer: Senior Level Roles at ODI’s Budget Strengthening Initiative

ODI’s Budget Strengthening Initiative (BSI) supports the world’s poorest, most fragile and most conflict-affected states to develop more effective, transparent and accountable systems for managing public finances. We are currently looking for a number of experts to help us in our work providing governments of fragile states with high level, strategic advice and technical support on a range of issues to do with Public Finance Management (PFM).

Continue reading "Job Offer: Senior Level Roles at ODI’s Budget Strengthening Initiative" »

September 19, 2011

Mauritius: Publication of the PEFA 2010 Report

Posted by Peter Murphy

Pefa logo 
In 2010, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Government of Mauritius (MoFED) requested the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to assist in carrying out a Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment for Mauritius. The IMF, with support from the World Bank (WB) and the European Union (EU), agreed to assist the government in an external validation of a PEFA self-assessment and a formal agreement was signed in September 2010. This report, which has now been published, represents a good example of successful cooperation between a national government and multilateral institutions in leveraging the possibilities of a self assessment approach.

The 2010 PEFA report shows Mauritius continues to perform well against the PEFA benchmarks. The dimension scores show progress compared to the 2007 PEFA assessment, with 27 out of the 31 reported ratings, higher or equal to those obtained in 2007. Of these 24 criteria are rated at the A or B level. These positive results have been achieved despite the challenges faced in the wake of the recent global financial crisis. Further work is required in a few areas related to expenditure composition variances, coverage of extra budgetary unit transactions and legislative scrutiny. The results of this diagnostic will be used as an input to future PFM reform.

Continue reading "Mauritius: Publication of the PEFA 2010 Report" »

September 16, 2011

CARTAC Continues to be Actively Engaged in Strengthening Debt Management Capacity, Institutions and Regional Networking with Key Partners

Posted by Michel Marion

The Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre[1] (CARTAC) has been providing technical assistance aimed at strengthening debt management institutions and human resource capacity. This effort was scaled up during Phase III (2008-2010) of the CARTAC project, in response to a rise in demand by members, and as a key element of an intensified effort to strengthen fiscal management and to help member states better manages their fiscal – including debt management – risks.

To meet this demand, CARTAC developed and rolled out a number of TA initiatives. The first one involves carrying out an institutional review and supporting senior managers in the MoF and central banks in undertaking the needed reforms of their debt offices, following the models proposed by the IMF and by the Commonwealth Secretariat (ComSec). Four workshops were also developed; and they are being delivered to help debt managers in member countries:

  • Analyze and assess various external financing instruments;
  • Plan for and negotiate with potential creditors on new loans;
  • Carry out the advance planning and preparation work before entering into re-negotiations of their debt portfolio with creditors; and
  • Analyze and assess the debt portfolio in their country, and formulate change recommendations as required. 

Continue reading "CARTAC Continues to be Actively Engaged in Strengthening Debt Management Capacity, Institutions and Regional Networking with Key Partners " »

September 14, 2011

Publication of a ROSC for El Salvador

Posted by Carlos Tamarit de Castro

In June 2011, at the request of the government of El Salvador, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conducted an assessment of the government’s compliance with the requirements of the IMF Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency. The resulting Report on Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) is now available on the IMF website

These assessments help countries present their fiscal policies and improvements with greater clarity and openness. This is a way to assess transparency, using the IMF’s Manual on Fiscal Transparency as a primary resource.

The report is divided in two parts. The first one details the current practices of El Salvador regarding (i) clarity of roles and responsibilities, (ii) openness of the budget process, (iii) public availability of information, and (iv) independently assessed assurances of integrity. The second part sets out the IMF staff’s comments on the preceding information.

Continue reading "Publication of a ROSC for El Salvador" »

Publicación del ROSC de El Salvador

Por Carlos Tamarit de Castro

En junio del 2011 el Fondo Monetario Internacional realizó, previa petición del gobierno de El Salvador, la evaluación del cumplimiento del gobierno de los requisitos establecidos en el Código de buenas prácticas de transparencia fiscal del FMI. Dicho informe, denominado ROSC (Report on Observance of Standards and Codes) está publicado en la siguiente página web del FMI

Mediante esta evaluación los países pueden promocionar la apertura y claridad en la presentación de sus políticas fiscales y sus mejoras. Es una manera de juzgar la transparencia, siendo el referido Manual la principal referencia para realizar la valoración.

El informe se divide en dos partes. En la primera se describen detalladamente las prácticas actuales en el Salvador en las siguientes áreas: (i) Claridad de funciones y responsabilidades, (ii) apertura del proceso presupuestario, (iii) acceso del público a la información y (iv) evaluación independiente que de garantías de integridad. En la segunda parte del documento se detallan los comentarios del FMI sobre los datos obtenidos.

Continue reading "Publicación del ROSC de El Salvador" »

September 12, 2011

Fiscal Affairs E-Newsletter September 2011http://www.typepad.com/site/blogs/6a00e54ef00595883400e54eff42208834/post/6a00e54ef00595883401543509ff4c970c/edit

Fiscal Affairs : September 2011

 

 

Fiscal Addairs e-Newsletter

September 2011
IMF Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD)
 

Paris Seminar on Health Care Reform

Cover_Fiscal_Monitor_Update

Health care reform will be a key fiscal policy challenge for Europe in coming years. To discuss this topic, FAD and the IMF Office in Europe organized a conference in Paris on June 21, 2011, “Public Health Care Reforms: Challenges and Lessons for Advanced and Emerging Europe.” The event brought together over 60 policymakers and leading academics from 26 countries in Europe. IMF Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Naoyuki Shinohara delivered the keynote address. There was consensus among the participants that to slow the growth in health spending countries would have to tackle inefficiencies in this sector, use tools such as budget caps and market mechanisms to restrain cost growth and  draw lessons from  success stories in Europe (e.g., Estonia, Germany) in formulating reform strategies.


Promoting Fiscal Sustainability through Strengthening Fiscal Institutions and Medium-Term Budget Frameworks (India)Cover of Fiscal Monitor

FAD organized a conference, with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi, on Promoting Fiscal Sustainability, Strengthening Budget Institutions and Medium-Term Budget Frameworks, in New Delhi, India on April 21–22, 2011. It was attended by some 75 senior budget officials and policy makers from the central and state governments of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Maldives and representatives of CSOs. The conference was inaugurated by Dr. Rangarajan, Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India. Participants debated the role of key fiscal institutions, such as fiscal responsibility frameworks and fiscal councils, in their respective countries/states.

FAD In The News

Bloomberg broadcast an interview with Carlo Cottarelli on the U.S. budget and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, highlighting that “IMF’s Cottarelli Urges ‘Targeted’ Cuts of U.S. Budget”

 

After appearing in IMFdirect, Ruud de Mooij's blog post "To Owe or Be Owned—Depends on How You Tax It" was picked up by a wide variety of economics and financial news websites, news aggregators, and blogs from around the world: The Wall Street Journal online, Best Financial News, The Forex Trading System Blog, The Huffington Post, EconoMonitor, Seeking Alpha, indiatimes.com, al Ma’ahad al Araby, Rsshog.com, Niuzer, tm, and topnewstoday.org.

 

Ian Parry’s paper on environmental taxation “Reforming the Tax System to Promote Environmental Objectives: An Application to Mauritius” was picked up by the blogs of the Economist and Washington Post.

New Book: "Chipping Away at Public Debt: Sources of Failure and Keys to Success in Fiscal Adjustment," Tokyo Seminar

edited by Paolo Mauro, with a foreword by Carlo Cottarelli; published by Wiley (available in hardback and e-book).

 

This new FAD book analyzes large fiscal adjustment plans in advanced economies, comparing planned or projected reductions in debts and deficits to actual outcomes, and explaining why objectives were met in some cases but missed in others. The analysis is based upon case studies for each of the G7 countries and panel regressions for the European Union countries. An overview reveals pitfalls to avoid and lessons learned for securing successful fiscal adjustment. Read more at PFM blog and watch the book's video.

Fiscal Monitor Update–Staying the Course on Fiscal Adjustment

The June 2011 Fiscal Monitor Update noted that fiscal consolidation was proceeding in many advanced economies. However, it underscored the need for the United States to agree on a credible medium-term fiscal plan and for Japan to adopt a more detailed medium-term adjustment strategy. Rising risks in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal highlighted the need to implement adjustment programs and develop a comprehensive and a consistent approach to crisis management in the euro area. While in many emerging economies fiscal consolidation was proceeding at an appropriate pace, in others, fiscal policy needed to be tightened faster than envisaged to reduce overheating risks.

Staff Discussion Notes

Raising the Consumption Tax in Japan: Why, When, How?” by M. Keen, M. Pradhan, K. Kang and R. de Mooij argues that a consumption tax hike should play a part in preventing an exploding public debt ratio. The current 5 percent VAT rate is low and its performance relatively good. A VAT hike is also comparatively superior on equity and efficiency grounds, although complementary measures may be needed to address social concerns. The Japanese tax hike should follow four S’s: it should be implemented Soon and Stepwise, while it should be Sustained and Simple.

 

 “Tax Biases to Debt Finance: Assessing the Problem, Financing Solutions,” by R. de Mooij argues that most countries’ corporate tax systems favor debt over equity finance, creating substantial distortions and vulnerabilities—in fact, probably larger than economists have always thought. New evidence suggests that firm responses have grown over time; and externalities from excessive leverage, especially in the financial sector, are important. The note argues that introducing an allowance for corporate equity is the best way to go, a reform that some countries have already successfully implemented.

 

 “What Happens to Social Spending in IMF-Supported Programs?” by B. Clements, S. Gupta, and M. Nozaki, discussed in the iMFdirect Blog, finds that education and health spending have risen faster during IMF-supported programs than in developing countries as a whole. Controlling for other determinants of social spending, the study finds that in low-income countries, a period of 5 consecutive years with IMF-supported programs would boost education and health spending by about ¾ and 1 percentage point of GDP respectively.

Recent Working Papers

Taxing Financial Transactions: An Assessment of Administrative Feasibility”, by J. Brondolo considers taxes on financial transactions on exchange-traded, over-the-counter, and forex financial instruments. For each category, the paper examines the underlying tax administration issues involved, collection options, compliance risks that are likely to be encountered, and measures for mitigating these risks.

 

"Democratic Accountability, Deficit Bias and Independent Fiscal Agencies," by X. Debrun takes stock of the theoretical case for independent fiscal institutions ("fiscal councils"), and argues that the usual parallel with the theory of central bank independence is mistaken, and that in a democratic system, these institutions can only credibly reduce the deficit bias if they effectively enhance fiscal transparency.

 

Two recent papers provide guidance on environmental taxes: “International Fuel Tax Assessment: An Application to Chile” by I. Perry and J. Strand estimates the appropriate level of gasoline and diesel fuel taxes to address pollution, congestion, and accident externalities of car and truck use. “Reforming the Tax System to Promote Environmental Objectives: An Application to Mauritius” by I. Perry also evaluates various environmental tax options for Mauritius, with a focus on reforming vehicle taxes in light of externalities, and revenue and equity considerations.

Technical Assistance Activities

A new video posted on YouTube and IMF.org shows how effective technical assistance can be in helping transform governance and the management of public finances: Supported by technical assistance from the Fiscal Affairs Department, Liberia has had considerable success in improving revenue mobilization and implementing public financial management reforms. In partnership with several donors, FAD will continue to provide considerable technical assistance to Liberia in the coming years.

 

During May - August 2011, FAD provided 45 technical assistance missions to IMF member countries and multi-country organizations.

Career Opportunities

FAD seeks talented and dedicated professionals with a background in different areas of public finance, to work on macro-fiscal policy issues and to provide technical assistance advice to IMF member countries on public financial management, tax policy reform, revenue administration, and different expenditure policy issues. Vacancies in FAD for staff and long-term expert positions are posted on http://www.imf.org/jobs. FAD also seeks experts who are interested in occasional short-term (2–3 week) assignments; interested candidates may send their CVs to FADexperts@imf.org

 

 

September 09, 2011

Evaluation of Governance: A Study of the Government of India’s Outcome Budget

Posted by Anand P. Gupta, Director, Economic Management Institute, New Delhi, India. E-mail: anand@EconomicManagement.com

In 2005, the Government of India launched an apparently excellent initiative – the Outcome Budget – with the objective of changing the culture of measuring performance in terms of the amount of money spent against the budgeted allocations, to one of measuring performance in terms of the delivery of the outcomes that people are concerned with. This paper describes how the Outcome Budget was launched, articulates the theory of change underlying the Outcome Budget, presents a case study of the Outcome Budget of the Government of India’s Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme, and discusses the lessons that the Government of India may learn from its experience with the Outcome Budget.

The paper argues that the Outcome Budget has failed. This has happened because the assumptions of the theory of change underlying the Outcome Budget have not been satisfied. The failure of the Outcome Budget has extremely important lessons for the Independent Evaluation Office, which the Government of India has decided to set up. The paper articulates the theory of change underlying the Independent Evaluation Office. This theory assumes that policymakers in India currently demand rigorous impact evaluations of public interventions and will continue to demand such evaluations in future, not because they have to comply with any requirement but because they really want to know the answers to the impact evaluation questions of ‘what works, under what conditions does it work, for whom, what part of a given intervention works, and for how much?’, so that they may draw appropriate lessons from these answers and use these lessons while designing and implementing public interventions in future.  However, given Indian public officials’ current culture, the Independent Evaluation Office may not make any visible difference in development effectiveness in India.

Continue reading "Evaluation of Governance: A Study of the Government of India’s Outcome Budget" »

September 07, 2011

Phil Joyce's Seminar with FAD on His Book: The Congressional Budget Office

Posted by Kris Kauffmann

On August 30, 2011, the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) of the IMF had the pleasure to host Phil Joyce for a seminar regarding his book, The Congressional Budget Office – Honest Numbers, Power and Policymaking.

The book charts the history of the CBO and its engagement in key areas of policy development in the United States over the last 37 years. A key aspect of the emergence of CBO explored in the book is the manner in which the leaders of the CBO have shaped the institution. In his presentation Phil explained that the CBO has maintained a reputation as a non-partisan organization while serving in the highly politically charged environment of Congress largely due to the professionalism of successive leaders and the staff of CBO and their consistent desire to ensure a non-partisan approach in CBO irrespective of any notional affiliations.  

Phil outlined the structure and working approach of the CBO, including the manner in which it engages with members of Congress, committees, the OMB and other entities in the executive branch, as well as its external outreach.

Continue reading "Phil Joyce's Seminar with FAD on His Book: The Congressional Budget Office" »

September 06, 2011

Lao PDR: Better Accounting to Help Growth

Posted by Suhas Joshi

The desire to sustain its recently achieved strong growth performance[1] by developing confidence in investors and making Lao a more attractive investment destination has motivated the government’s intention to move towards an international accounting standard that is recognized and accepted worldwide.

Recently, at the government’s request, I, working along with the World Bank, conducted a workshop in Vientiane on "Accounting Reform: International Experience and Implications for Laos”. The workshop, aimed at fostering the acceptance of IPSAS-based accounting standards[2] as a basis for developing Laos accounting standards. The move towards modern accounting standards had been initiated sometime back in Lao PDR and received a new impetus with the conduct of this workshop which was attended by nearly 50 decision-makers in the government, public, and private sectors. The workshop was inaugurated by Dr. Viengthong Siphandone, Vice Minister for Finance, and was closed by the Director General of the Accounting Department. At the close of the workshop the Director General announced that the government has decided to move towards IPSAS cash basis of accounting, as a first step.

The workshop comprised four sessions, the first was on the implications of adopting international accounting standards in the public sector and the second on the ongoing accounting and auditing reforms in Laos. These were followed by a session on cash basis IPSAS and drew upon international experiences in this area. Lastly the workshop discussed the Laos road map to accounting reform.

Continue reading "Lao PDR: Better Accounting to Help Growth" »

September 01, 2011

When Reality Doesn’t Bite—Misconceptions about the IMF and Social Spending

Posted by Benedict Clements and Sanjeev Gupta, and previoudly published on iMFdirect

All too often we hear the claim that the programs the IMF supports in low-income countries hurt the most vulnerable by forcing cuts in social spending. This is a misconception.

Our study concludes that, contrary to these claims, IMF-supported programs boost education and health spending in low-income countries for as long as countries are engaged with the IMF.

Let the numbers do the talking

We based our analysis on public spending on education and health in 140 countries between 1985 and 2009. The dataset is the most comprehensive ever assembled to assess this issue. The results show the beneficial effects for social spending in program countries in several respects.

First, social spending increased at a faster pace in countries with programs compared to those without, particularly for low-income countries with programs (see chart below). This is true for social spending in relation to GDP and as a share of total government spending, as well as increases in per capita social spending after adjusting for inflation.

Continue reading "When Reality Doesn’t Bite—Misconceptions about the IMF and Social Spending" »

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