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November 2013

November 26, 2013

New Blood for FAD

Torben Hansen (below left), formerly the Deputy Permanent Secretary responsible for the budget at the Ministry of Finance in Denmark, has recently joined the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF as a Deputy Division Chief responsible for public financial management. Torben was interviewed by the PFM Blog about his career and what he expects to bring to the new position.

  Torben 2  Richard 2

Q: Why did you decide to join FAD? You have had a varied career working in the Danish finance ministry and elsewhere. What skills, experience and ideas do you expect to bring to the new job?

After working more than 20 years in the Danish finance ministry, the decision to join FAD is a unique opportunity to move my career forward in an international setting. I felt the time was right to seek new challenges, and the new position is a perfect match in terms of both my competencies and professional interests. What I can bring to the new job is first and foremost the practical experience of working with politicians and senior officials in a finance ministry and being at the core of the decision-making processes of government. Setting up the right procedures, institutions and incentives are crucial elements in maintaining a well functioning PFM system. I also hope to bring some knowledge and understanding of change management processes, and not least how difficult these are. At the end of the day, change is about people. And governmental organizations are world champions in avoiding, even opposing, change. Finance ministries have to learn how to work around these obstacles.

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November 21, 2013

Budgeting in the Real World - What Do We Know? What Should We Do?

This is the keynote speech given last week, November 13th, by Antoinette Sayeh, Director of the IMF’s African Department at the UK’s Overseas Development Institute’s annual CAPE Conference in London on why PFM matters, why reforms are difficult, and what we know to make them successful…..

Sayeh

I am delighted to have the opportunity to deliver this keynote address and would like to thank Messrs. Ed Hedger, Kevin Watkins, and Philip Krause for inviting me to this important conference and for that generous introduction.

Let me start by saying that from the IMF’s perspective, good governance is important for countries at all stages of development. Transparent government accounts and effective public resource management are preconditions for sustained economic growth and prosperity. Indeed, budget formulation, implementation, and oversight lie at the core of good economic governance. Strong budget institutions are essential for countries to achieve sound fiscal policies and effective expenditure programs. Budgets can only be spent once. Getting the priorities right all the way from formulation to execution, and being efficient at it, is all the more important. Transparency and fairness are most important in ensuring that expenditures are aligned with broadly agreed priorities, and in securing society’s buy-in. While most can agree to the underlying principles, the hard part is to have systems and capacity in place that actually ensure that they are respected all along the process chain. As so often, the devil is in the detail. 

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November 20, 2013

Crowd Sourcing Request: A List of All International Comparative PFM Data!

Posted by David Gentry

Database
Public Financial Management (PFM) data sources are rapidly increasing in number and quality. In the last dozen years several new major data sets have been established, such as the PEFA (Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability) Secretariat’s listing of country assessments, the Open Budget Initiative’s Open Budget Survey results, and the IMF’s Fiscal Rules Dataset. Data sets increasingly are well defined, standardized, updated regularly, and often aligned with key analytical issues. They cover at least a large subset of countries worldwide.

An initial list of PFM data sources is shown below. Readers of the PFM Blog are invited to suggest additions, keeping in mind the criteria of useful data described in the opening paragraph above. An updated list, based on reader submissions, will appear in the Blog in the near future.  

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November 13, 2013

How Long Does it Take to Achieve Fiscal Transparency?

Posted by Tim Irwin


In many developing and emerging economies today there are demands for more fiscal transparency, to stop the misuse of public funds. How long might it take for these demands to translate into the kind of transparency achieved in countries like France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom? (The Open Budget Survey has information on fiscal transparency in these three countries and many others.) This new working paper on the history of fiscal transparency in Western Europe (see earlier blog) doesn’t aim to answer questions about developing and emerging economies, but it may provoke some thoughts on the subject.

The evidence it presents can be read in two different ways. On the one hand, there were debates about fiscal transparency in Europe two hundred years ago, which suggests that the transition from secrecy to transparency could be a long one. To illustrate, it’s perhaps worth quoting three advocates of transparency who, for reasons of space, didn’t get discussed in the working paper.

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November 11, 2013

Online PFM Conference: ODI Event Being Streamed Live this Week

Posted by Ryan Flynn

ODI-CAPE
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is one of the UK's leading independent think tanks on international development and humanitarian issues. It is organizing a major conference this week: the 2013 CAPE Conference: budgeting in the real world. CAPE stands for Centre for Aid and Public Expenditure, which is hosted by ODI. It aims to shape and drive the agenda for international development assistance, as well as efficient and effective public spending for development at the country level.

The conference will focus on PFM and budgeting in developing countries. The whole two-days (13 & 14 November) will be streamed live online, and questions fielded through social media (#CAPE2013) will be answered by speakers and panellist. You can register to attend here.

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November 08, 2013

Update on Sukuk Financing

Posted by Yasemin Hurcan

In a speech in the World Islamic Economic Forum on October 29, 2013, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the UK would like to become the first country outside of the Islamic world to issue an Islamic bond. He stated that the Treasury was working on the practicalities of issuing a bond-like sukuk instrument worth around £200 million, which it is hoped to launch as early as next year.

In addition, the London Stock Exchange is creating a new way of identifying Islamic finance opportunities by launching a world-leading Islamic Market Index. As was discussed in the blog posted on May 30, 2013, this development suggests that the use of sukuk instruments for sovereign borrowing is likely to increase in coming years. It supports the case for developing international norms on the accounting and reporting of sukuk-related transactions in PFM.

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November 06, 2013

Book Review: The International Handbook of Public Financial Management[1]

Posted by Philip Joyce and Juan Pablo Martinez Guzman[2]

PFM handbook
Over the last two decades, public financial management (PFM) has been at the core of many government reforms around the world.  As a subject with many moving parts, the field has become distinctively broad and diverse, with a great array of topics that are strongly linked with each other. For that reason, creating a comprehensive book that covers most, if not all, of the PFM related topics, is a daunting (some might say impossible) task. Richard Allen, Richard Hemming and Barry Potter, three former staff members of the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF, however, have managed to accomplish such an objective with the publication of the new International Handbook of Public Financial Management.  The book’s length (more than 900 pages) is itself a testament to the breadth of the field.

In addition to the broad range of topics that make this book almost inarguably the most comprehensive PFM publication to date, it is important to describe two overarching characteristics that make it unique. First, it provides an extraordinary combination of academic knowledge and empirical evidence. Thus, every topic covered is analyzed both through the lens of how ideal PFM systems should be designed and how they are to be implemented given specific country scenarios. Each chapter of the book combines evidence from developed and developing countries; emphasizing institutional arrangements, political economy constraints, and the interrelations between systems. This makes this book an excellent guide for policymakers, practitioners, and academics. Second, this book benefits from the views of the different authors, many of whom are the leading experts on the topics covered by the many chapters. Readers will benefit greatly not just from learning about the topics, but by learning about them from these world-reckoned experts.

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November 04, 2013

The FMIS Community of Practice Moves On

Posted by Cem Dener[1]

FMIS CoP banner
September 2013 marked the 3rd anniversary of the Financial Management Information Systems (FMIS) Community of Practice (CoP). Thanks to the continued support and participation of a diverse group of practitioners, the FMIS CoP has become an increasingly relevant and steadily growing community.

Etienne Wenger[2] summarizes Communities of Practice (CoP) as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” Three components are required in order to be a CoP: (i) the domain, (ii) the community, and (iii) the practice. The FMIS “domain” is an integral part of e-Government initiatives. The FMIS “community” benefits from a website to share knowledge and enable members to learn from each other. FMIS “practitioners” interact through CoP events and the website to improve the quality and performance of their activities by exchanging information on good practices, and experiences gained in the design and implementation of FMIS solutions. The FMIS CoP is also focused on the development and dissemination of leading-edge knowledge products. All three components are essential to ensure the sustainability of the CoP platform.

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