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December 2012

December 27, 2012

ICGFM 2012 Winter Conference

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Posted by Sailendra Pattanayak

The International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management (ICGFM) held its Winter Conference on Good Public Financial Management Practices in a Period of Global Adjustment in Washington, DC during December 10–12, 2012. This was co-hosted by the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) of the IMF. The Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) also partnered with the ICGFM for this conference.

The conference was attended by high-level officials from ministries of finance, state audit institutions and other government ministries/agencies, and members of parliament of more than 25 countries, as well as representatives from international organizations, rating agencies, think tanks, the donor community, civil society groups, and academia. The welcome address was delivered by Ms. Linda Fealing, President, ICGFM, followed by opening remarks from Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, FAD Deputy Director. (Download ICGFM conference agenda Dec 2012.)

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December 20, 2012

Following the Money: Examining the Evidence on Pro-poor Budgeting

Posted by Rebecca Simson[1]

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ODI’s Centre for Aid and Public Expenditure has recently initiated a work stream on pro-poor budgeting to investigate how governments choose to spend public funds and what this tells us about allocative efficiency.  In 2001 Adrian Fozzard published a paper on this topic, which presented approaches to resource allocation in the public sector and their implications for pro-poor budgeting. A decade on, and after billions of dollars spent to further pro-poor priorities in developing countries, have we learnt anything new about how to allocate public funds?

Our first background paper, Following the money: examining the evidence on pro-poor budgeting, explores what we do know about the influence of the poverty reduction agenda on resource allocation in developing countries. The paper goes on to propose some possible research topics that could begin to evaluate whether spending patterns have in fact changed in systematic ways in response to the high growth and falling poverty experienced over the past 15 years.

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December 17, 2012

Towards Better Public Expenditure Management: Experience Across Asia

Posted by Suhas Joshi  and Greg Smith

Despite heavy snowfall, government officials from mostly warm countries landed in Seoul for a high-level conference on how to improve public expenditure management (PEM) in the region. The event convened member nations of the Public Expenditure Management Network in Asia (PEMNA). The network, launched in June 2012 in Bangkok, provides opportunities for practitioners across the region to share knowledge and experiences in implementing PEM reforms. PEMNA is modeled on the PEMPAL network that has been operating successfully in central and eastern Europe for several years.

PEMNA comprises two communities of practice (CoPs). The budget CoP is managed by the World Bank, and the Treasury CoP by the IMF. PEMNA’s Steering Committee provides strategic oversight and governance. The Korea Institute of Public Finance (KIPF), a research and training institute associated with the Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance, provides the secretariat for PEMNA and the two CoPs, and is supported in its work by development partners including the World Bank, AusAID, the IMF, and the OECD.

The demand-driven nature of the network allows members to focus dialogue on solving practical implementation issues.  By sharing common experiences and benchmarking performance with peers, members are able to deepen their understanding of the reform process. Across the budget and treasury areas members recognize that they cannot rely on theory alone and that the cross-fertilization of ideas is essential for the successful design and implementation of reform.

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December 15, 2012

Consultation on Revisions to the IMF Code of Good Practices and Manual on Fiscal Transparency

Posted by Sailendra Pattanayak

The IMF has launched a consultation with governments, civil society, academics, and private sector stakeholders to gather ideas for revision of its Code of Good Practices and Manual on Fiscal Transparency, as well as to the way it evaluates countries’ fiscal transparency practices. Interested parties are being asked to submit their comments by February 10, 2013 after which time submissions will be posted on the IMF website.

After this first round of consultation, the IMF will prepare a revised draft of the Code of Good Practices and Manual on Fiscal Transparency, which will form the basis for a second round of consultation in Spring 2013. The IMF plans to submit final versions of the new Code and Manual to its Executive Board for approval and publication in late 2013.

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December 12, 2012

MTEF: Better Than Sliced Bread?

Posted by Richard Allen

Richard Hemming is a co-author of the World Bank’s recently published Beyond the Annual Budget: Global Experience with Medium-Term Expenditure Frameworks. In this conversation with Richard Allen, he talks about the book, the analytical work carried out, and the policy implications.

RA: You are one of the authors of this book. What was your specific role in preparing it?

RH: The team that worked on the book was large. Jim Brumby was the team leader and I was the lead consultant. We were the only people involved in all aspects of the work for the duration of the project. My main roles were to provide guidance on the overall approaches to the book’s analysis, to contribute to some of the analysis, to coordinate the drafting of the book, and to write a significant part of it. The only two areas in which I was not extensively involved were the detailed econometric analysis, for which we put together a really accomplished team, and the assessment of Bank advice on MTEFs. Overall, the book should be viewed very much as a team effort.

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December 07, 2012

What if… Legislators Approve—and Execute—the Budget?

Posted by Greg Horman

A practice more or less universal across all legislative assemblies is to provide members—MPs, for short—with allowances to enable them to represent their constituents effectively. Typical allowances cover expenses associated with staying in close contact with voters, such as travel to MPs’ constituencies, operating local offices, and communicating through mailings and various media. Although they are the cause of the occasional scandal, debate about these allowances is more over the scope of costs that they cover and up to what ceiling, than over the principle that they are necessary in the first instance. Frequently, these allowances—representing spending by the legislature, not the executive—are outside the government’s budget.

What is uncommon, however, is the situation where MPs themselves administer and distribute funds from the government’s budget.

The Solomon Islands is a case in point and an example of this modality of budget execution taken to an extreme. Depending on the calculation, perhaps 30 percent to 50 percent of the development budget in the Solomon Islands is represented by “constituent development funds.” These are appropriated funds that are directly allocated to and held by MPs for distribution to their constituents. In practice, the funds are deposited into MPs’ own bank accounts, and there is little transparency or accountability for how MPs manage or distribute this money from the public purse. Nor is there any analysis of the impact or effectiveness of the use of the funds. Moreover, expenditure in the development-budget that was originally appropriated to ministries is occasionally re-programmed into constituent development funds. Staff of the Ministry of Finance and donors—grants account for around two fifths of total revenue—agree that this practice undermines sound public financial management.

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December 04, 2012

Transforming Internal Audit in East Africa

Posted by Onesmus Ayaya, George Mang’oka and Jesse W Hughes

The IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Center for East Africa organized a workshop for government internal auditors from the region[1] in Nairobi, Kenya, from November 6-9, 2012.

PEFA diagnostic assessment results and external audit reports indicate that reforms of internal audit (IA) have lagged behind. The workshop discussed modalities of strengthening internal audit in relation to the various themes: the legal mandate for IA, the governance structure, coordination with public sector integrity institutions, participation in the work of professional bodies, the contribution to the control environment, and capacity building. The main issues are summarized below.

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