Events/Seminars

February 16, 2017

Big Data Analytics for Better Revenue Administration

Big Data

Posted by Duncan Cleary[1]

The IMF’s senior management recognizes the potential value of Big Data and Analytics[2] for its work. In late 2015, the IMF hosted a symposium on Big Data, and following this event the Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, sponsored the Big Data Innovation Challenge, where she urged staff to ‘step out of your comfort zone and propose bold new ideas’. The challenge saw 109 entries from across 16 departments. There were ten finalists chosen by a panel of internal and external experts. Of these finalists, six were awarded seed money. A proposal from the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) was placed fifth, with the title ‘Applying Analytics for Better Tax and Customs Administration’. This proposal laid out in broad terms how applying analytics can assist tax and customs administrations in improving their performance across a range of business areas, but with a focus on risk management.

FAD, through its Revenue Administration Divisions, provides technical assistance to many countries on a regular basis. The objective is for these countries to achieve systems of tax and customs administration that are sustainable, fair, and efficient. How can making better use of available data assist in achieving this goal, and what role can FAD play? The proposal from the Big Data Innovation Challenge seeks to develop a methodology that combines both in-country field work and headquarters-based analysis of micro-level tax and customs data. Tax and customs administrations are often holders of large quantities of micro level data, their ‘Big Data’, at the taxpayer/ trader level, and at the transactional level.

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February 01, 2017

Tilting the Balance towards Quality Infrastructure in Developing Countries

QualityInfrastructure

Posted by Taz Chaponda[1]

At a recent international conference[2] on “Quality infrastructure and the Multilateral Development Banks”, the Director General of the Japanese Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) issued a stark reminder of the potential costs of “poor” infrastructure. He cited the Kobe highway disaster, when in 1995 a major highway in Japan collapsed following an earthquake.  The Director-General explained that the highway was built in a rush and the poor construction works resulted in its collapse several decades later.  He went on to discuss the expansion of power generation in the country’s early years of development through high-polluting plants that were subsequently phased out due to the negative impact on local populations.

Such examples remind us that even the richest nations went through a period of development where low quality infrastructure was pervasive, with very negative social and environmental consequences. Such issues are still common in many developing countries. This motivated the conference to explore what exactly is meant by “quality infrastructure”.  Do countries really need this type or level of infrastructure, and if so, how should it be procured and paid for?

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January 09, 2017

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

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

Uncoverfacts

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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December 13, 2016

Public Investment Management Seminar

AFRITAC South

Posted by Peter Murphy[1]

The IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Center for Southern Africa—AFRITAC South (AFS)—organized a one-week seminar on Public Investment Management (PIM) at the Africa Training Institute facilities in Mauritius from November 28 to December 2, 2016. The seminar was attended by 26 participants from 10 countries[2]. The facilitators[3] outlined the IMF’s new framework (www.imf.org/publicinvestment) for assessing Public Investment Management (PIMA), and discussed with participants the application of the framework through a series of comparative case studies, group and plenary sessions.

During the discussions the participants noted a number of key PIM challenges that adversely affect the efficiency and impact of pubic investment in the region, and discussed options for addressing these challenges. In particular:

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August 30, 2016

Innovative Financial Instruments for Fighting HIV/AIDS

Innovative Financial Instruments for Fighting HIVAIDS

Posted by Taz Chaponda[1]

The International AIDS Conference in July 2016 reported a resurgence of the disease, particularly in Africa and South Asia[2]. The number of people becoming infected every year, which had been dropping, has now stalled and is rising in some countries. Just under 2 million people become HIV positive every year; as the epidemic continues to grow, the cost of keeping people alive continues to rise. UNAIDS has reported that funding from donor governments fell last year for the first time in five years, from $8.6bn in 2014 to $7.5bn in 2015. This raises questions about the efficacy of current funding models, and the implications for fiscal sustainability in those low-income countries that have a large proportion of the population on HIV/AIDS treatment.  Most of these countries are in Africa and Asia.

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August 26, 2016

Organization of Central Finance Functions in Sub-Saharan Africa

Logo_afritac_south Headlights_afritac_south

Posted by Peter Murphy and Richard Allen[1]

The IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Center for Southern Africa—AFRITAC South (AFS)—organized a one-week seminar on the Organization of Central Finance Functions at the Africa Training Institute in Mauritius from August 15-19, 2016. The seminar was attended by 37 participants from 12 countries[2]. The presenters and facilitators were Peter Murphy (AFS, IMF), Richard Allen (Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF), Renaud Duplay (Ministry of Finance, France), and Francois Vaillancourt (University of Montreal, Canada). The program for the seminar together with relevant materials may be viewed at www.southafritac.org

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August 08, 2016

Latin American Treasurers Discuss Fiscal Forecasts

FOTEGAL

Posted by Mario Pessoa[1]

During July 27-29, 2016 the Paraguayan Ministry of Finance organized the seventh Latin American Treasury Forum (FOTEGAL) together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the World Bank. FOTEGAL aims at providing a permanent regional dialogue for technical discussions and exchange of experiences among national treasurers. The annual seminar has been a key component of the IMF’s technical assistance program and a testimony of significant improvements in treasury management in Latin America.

The Minister of Finance of Paraguay, Mr. Santiago Peña, in his opening remarks emphasized that public finances are related not only to financial stability but also provide a tool to promote growth and development. In a country such as Paraguay with significant development needs, it is important to use public resources wisely. The Minister mentioned that the fiscal rules approved in 2013 had improved the reliability of fiscal policy, and highlighted the country’s efforts to increase public investment to promote development and benefit the population.

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July 20, 2016

Managing the Wage Bill in Southern Africa

AFRITAC South

Posted by Imran Aziz[1]

AFRITAC South[2], in collaboration with the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF, held a regional seminar on Government Compensation and Employment from June 20 to 23, 2016.  The event was hosted by the Africa Training Institute in Mauritius, and brought together government officials from Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The seminar focused on the conceptual framework presented in the IMF’s recently published board paper “Managing Government Compensation and Employment – Institutions, Policies, and Reform Challenges”. The lectures and group sessions were structured on strengthening the key institutions that underpin the effective management of wage bill spending. A well-designed system requires adequate fiscal planning to ensure appropriate financing of the wage bill, competitive compensation to attract and retain skilled staff and incentivize performance, and the flexibility to adjust the level and compensation of employment to reach efficient levels.  

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