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December 2013

December 27, 2013

PEFA Newsflash: Revising the PEFA Performance Measurement Framework

Posted by the PEFA Secretariat

Pefa
The PEFA Program, launched in 2001, has succeeded in creating a credible and comprehensive Framework for the assessment of PFM functionality, which has been successfully applied in a large number of countries: countries with different income levels; different administrative traditions; and in different geographical regions.

The current Framework, although continuing to be relevant and applicable in a wide range of contexts, is being revised with the twin objectives of enhancing its relevance (by recognizing the developments in accepted good practice” which have taken place since it was launched) while preserving comparability over time, to the extent possible.

At their meeting in Paris in early December, the PEFA Partners made significant progress towards finalizing the revision of the Framework, including adding new indicators and modifying several existing dimensions in the light of the evolution in what constitutes “generally accepted good practice”.

The Partners also agreed on a process to test and consult Stakeholders on the revised Framework. The testing will have two distinct phases, the first of which will be restricted to a small number of volunteer countries where the Secretariat will support the assessment team to gather the data required to rate the indicators. Following this initial testing, the draft will be released for a period for Stakeholders to offer comments, in addition to which, opportunities will be sought to link with international and regional events in the area of public financial management and accountability, and the PEFA Partners will also arrange dedicated events where detailed discussions can take place.

Following the consultation period, the draft Framework will be modified as necessary before the second, more substantial testing phase is undertaken, which will be designed to ensure that the Framework is applicable across a wide range of countries contexts and different heritages. The revised Framework is expected to be released in 2015.

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. 

December 23, 2013

Strengthening the Capacity of Parliaments in the Budget Process

Posted by Carlos Santiso and Marco Varea*

In the past decade, parliaments in many parts of the world have flexed their muscles by demanding more information about the government’s performance in managing public resources. In the Latin America and the Caribbean region, however, the capacity of the parliament to influence budgetary matters—and more generally fiscal policy and public financial management— is hindered not only by the centralized nature of the budget process, but also by the legislature’s lack of technical and institutional capacity.

Continue reading "Strengthening the Capacity of Parliaments in the Budget Process" »

December 16, 2013

ICGFM Winter Conference 2013

Posted by Carla Sateriale

Icgfm
The IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) hosted this year’s Winter Conference of the International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management (ICGFM) from December 9-11, 2013. Despite the snowfall in Washington, the attendees’ enthusiasm for PFM innovations, which was the theme of the conference, was not dampened. Dozens of officials and PFM professionals from various development organizations, governments and NGOs convened for discussions on a variety of topics related to PFM, from accrual accounting to climate change.

IMF Division Chief Richard Hughes’s opening remarks highlighted worldwide innovations in financial management, including the trend of independent fiscal councils being established, the increasing number of sovereign wealth funds around the world, and the growing adoption of accrual accounting. Major events during the conference included a presentation by Harvard’s Matt Andrews on the role of governance in development, Xavier Debrun’s exposition of FAD research of the efficacy of fiscal councils, and a discussion panel on PFM innovations headed by Richard Hughes and the World Bank’s William Dorotinsky.

The next ICGFM event will be its annual training course, from May 18-23, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The theme of it will be “Good Public Financial Management Practices in a Period of Global Adjustment.”

Download ICGFM Winter Conference 2013 Program

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. 

December 09, 2013

Workshop on Fiscal Reporting and Transparency in West Africa

Posted by Yasemin Hurcan and Florence Kuteesa

Workshop
A workshop on strengthening fiscal reporting and transparency within Anglophone West Africa took place on September 23-25 in Accra, Ghana.[1] The 30 participants in the workshop were exposed to the latest developments and international standards of fiscal reporting and transparency including the IMF’s proposed new Fiscal Transparency Assessment (FTA) Code, which will be launched in the spring of 2014. They also examined the practices and gaps in the region and suggested measures to enhance the attainment of basic practices as articulated in the FTA Code.

The Deputy Minister for Finance of Ghana, Hon. Cassiel Ato Forson, underscored the critical role of fiscal reporting and transparency in sustaining economic growth within the region and strengthening fiscal institutions. He welcomed the IMF’s strong leadership in driving the reform agenda. In addition, the IMF resident representative, Mr. Samir Jahjah, and Dr. Nelson Magbagbeola, from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria, emphasized the need to strengthen fiscal reporting practices as a prerequisite for the successful harmonization of public financial management within the region.

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December 05, 2013

The Late-Twentieth-Century Revolution in Fiscal Transparency

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Posted by Tim Irwin 

The nineteenth century saw a revolution in the publication of fiscal information and other government data. As Ian Hacking has observed, “If there is a contrast in point of official statistics between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it is that the former feared to reveal, while the latter loved to publish” (p. 20). Yet some governments today make their nineteenth-century counterparts seem like shrinking violets—the new openness being symbolized by the remodeled German parliament shown above, whose glass cupola was designed to show that parliament was “transparent, its activities open to view” (see Alasdair Roberts, Blacked Out, p. xii).

The earlier revolution was discussed in two previous posts on this blog (here and here). This post investigates the changes of the late twentieth century.

The early years of this revolution are nicely illustrated in the episode “Open Government” of the British TV series Yes Minister,[1] which screened in 1980 when the UK government published its budget and accounts, but was not nearly as open as it is now. A new government has just been elected and the incoming Minister of Administrative Affairs meets the Permanent Secretary of his department. It transpires that they have met before when the Minister, in opposition, gave the PS “a grilling over the Estimates in the Public Accounts Committee.”

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December 02, 2013

Is There a “New Consensus” on PFM Reform?

Posted by Richard Allen

Odi logo
The Overseas Development Institute’s annual CAPE Conference (the eighth in the series) on Budgeting in the Real World took place in London from November 13–14, 2013. The Conference attracted an impressive group of 110 national and international public servants, consultants and academics who work on budget institutions. For many practitioners, CAPE is the definitive PFM event of the year. The keynote speech, which was featured in a recent blog post, was given by Antoinette Sayeh, Director of the IMF’s Africa Department. Other notable presentations were made by Matt Andrews of the Harvard Kennedy School, and Allen Schick of the Brookings Institution and University of Maryland.

The Conference included sessions on the form and functionality of budget systems, what constitutes a capable ministry of finance, how reform can deliver change in the budget process, and how improved budget systems impact on development outcomes. Much of this is familiar ground and there was a sense of déjà vu in some of the presentations. One participant asked rhetorically why there were no feedback loops in our profession, why the same messages kept on being repeated from one year to the next, and why PFM practitioners appeared to learn so little and did not change their attitudes or behavior. Nevertheless, while the agenda had a familiar look on the surface, there were encouraging signs that an important if uncomfortable truth about the nature of budget reform is beginning to sink in to the collective mind of the PFM community. Indeed, the Conference may prove to be a watershed in the development of thinking on PFM reform, though much work remains to be done to flesh out the details of the new approach—an emerging “New PFM Consensus”—and put it into practice.

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