PFM Blog

July 21, 2014

Philippines: A Competency Model for PFM Professionals

PHL

Posted by Gordon Ferrier1

Human resource aspects of public financial management (PFM) reform strategies are given less than their due in the literature. Yet they are fundamental to the success of such strategies, as a recent initiative by the Government of the Philippines (GOP) to develop a Competency Framework for some 60,000 government employees exemplifies.

In March 2013, the GOP embarked on an ambitious new strategy for reforming PFM systems. Its PFM Reform Roadmap aimed to “clarify, simplify, improve and harmonize the financial management processes and information systems of the entire government machinery for improved public service delivery”.

Continue reading "Philippines: A Competency Model for PFM Professionals" »

January 02, 2014

Top Ten Posts for 2013

Posted by Richard Allen, Holger van Eden, and Sasha Pitrof

Fireworks
The Top Ten posts for 2013 listed below display the continued diversity and versatility of the blog. The number of “hits” passed the one million mark during the year, and readership has maintained its high level. Readers clearly value the blog for keeping them up to date with new publications and events, as well as challenging them with original ideas and perspectives on PFM. Half of the Top Ten features reviews of two important new handbooks on PFM published in 2013, new technical notes on cash management and treasury issues, and the results of the Open Budget Survey for 2013. Other articles focus on keynote topics such as fiscal transparency, budget documentation, performance budgeting, and the challenges of reforming PFM in developing countries. Top author is Maarten de Jong of the Netherlands Ministry of Finance. Congratulations to him and all others who contributed excellent material to the blog in 2013! Looking forward to the New Year, the editors would welcome contributions from authors old and new, on topics both familiar and off-beat.

Continue reading "Top Ten Posts for 2013" »

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 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.

Continue reading "Is There a “New Consensus” on PFM Reform?" »

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.

Continue reading "New Blood for FAD" »

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.  

Continue reading "Crowd Sourcing Request: A List of All International Comparative PFM Data!" »

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.

Continue reading "Update on Sukuk Financing" »

June 03, 2013

Kenya’s Bold Course in PFM Reform

Posted by Ragnar Gudmundsson[1]

Note: This is the first in a new series of articles on the blog about PFM reforms in selected countries. Each article will be written by the IMF’s mission chief or resident representative in the country concerned, thus casting a fresh light on the reforms and their relationship to the Fund’s surveillance work.

Gudmundsson
Kenya is going through a huge set of political reforms, including a new Constitution.  What issues in public finance and PFM has this created? 

Kenya’s ambitious new Constitution was promulgated in August 2010, and one of its eighteen chapters is devoted to Public Finance. Key provisions in this chapter relate to devolution and the process of fiscal decentralization to the 47 newly created counties. Devolution was considered by the drafters of the Constitution as a way to promote political stability by ensuring adequate representation and the participation of all Kenyans in the running of the country. In this context, fiscal decentralization was perceived as a mechanism to enhance the delivery of social services on the ground and to promote enhanced accountability from State Officers. Moreover, a central objective of the Constitution is to promote good governance in PFM through the establishment of a sound institutional and regulatory environment at both national and county level.

Continue reading "Kenya’s Bold Course in PFM Reform" »

April 11, 2013

Austria – From an Incremental Improver to a Comprehensive Reformer

Posted by Johann Seiwald[1]

From the mid 1990s on, Austria has steadily improved its framework for fiscal policy and budgeting. With Austria’s accession to the European Union and the corresponding need to meet the Maastricht debt and deficit requirements, in 1996 a top-down approach replaced a “demand-driven” budgeting model in which fiscal discipline was not enforced and line ministries had little incentives for structural changes. Since 2000, the use of lump-sum budgets and performance budgeting has been piloted in more than 20 government agencies, including prisons, a printing office and the police academy. The implementation of a new cost accounting system for all federal ministries, as well as projects aimed at improving performance management, and introducing product definitions for public services and performance indicators in several line ministries, has steadily enriched the financial management framework.

Continue reading "Austria – From an Incremental Improver to a Comprehensive Reformer" »

November 28, 2012

Two Richards Talk Fiscal Transparency

Posted by Rachel F. Wang

Richards2
On November 1, 2012, the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) published a policy paper entitled, “
Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Risk”. The paper reviews the progress made in improving fiscal reporting since the late 1990s; considers what the global financial crisis has taught us about the adequacy of prevailing fiscal transparency standards, practices, and monitoring; and makes a series of recommendations for revitalizing the global fiscal transparency effort in the wake of the crisis. Richard Allen, a seasoned advisor on public financial management issues and former deputy division chief in FAD, sat down with Richard Hughes, the new head of FAD’s Public Financial Management Division I and co-author of the paper, to talk about its key insights and implications.

Richard Allen (RA): Can you tell me why it was decided to prepare a new IMF policy paper on fiscal transparency?

Richard Hughes (RH): There were really two motivations.

The first motivation was that the IMF has been in the fiscal transparency business for about 15 years. We started work in earnest in the wake of the Asian Financial Crisis with the development of the Fiscal Transparency Code (Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency) and Manual (Manual on Fiscal Transparency) and the Fiscal ROSC (Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes). So, 15 years on, we wanted to take stock of how much progress we have made in promoting greater fiscal transparency, review how these fiscal transparency instruments were performing, and look at how much work was left to be done.

Continue reading "Two Richards Talk Fiscal Transparency" »

November 15, 2012

Views from the Field No. 8 – West Bank and Gaza

Posted by Pierre Messali

In the latest in the series “Views from the Field”, Richard Allen interviewed Pierre Messali, the World Bank’s Public Sector Expert in West Bank and Gaza, Jerusalem.

RA:  Please describe your new position in Jerusalem and your work priorities in the coming year.

PM:  As the World Bank’s Senior Public Sector Specialist in West Bank and Gaza (WB&G), Jerusalem, I am in charge of supporting the Palestinian Authority (PA) with its Public Financial Management (PFM) and Civil Service Reform (CSR) agendas, as well as broader governance reform issues. A series of major initiatives was launched in these areas during 2008-2011 by my predecessor, Mark Ahern. My primary objective is to keep these multiple agendas alive and to support the PA in their implementation. On the PFM side, the main focus is on strengthening cash forecasting and accounting in order to address the current challenging fiscal/cash situation, and to issue financial statements in line with IPSAS.  Regarding CSR, we plan to help the PA define principles, methodology and modalities for managing human resources, taking account of the constraining fiscal environment. Other important areas of work include support for the implementation of the new public procurement law, especially setting up the High Council for Public Procurement; and testing the PA’s appetite for developing the newly established Anticorruption Commission.

Continue reading "Views from the Field No. 8 – West Bank and Gaza" »

November 13, 2012

Views from the Field No. 7 – East Asia

Posted by Suhas Joshi

In the latest in the series “Views from the Field”, Richard Alen interviewed Suhas Joshi, FAD’s PFM Advisor in East Asia, who is based in Cambodia.

RA:  What is your experience of working as a PFM advisor around the world?

SJ: Tolstoy starts Anna Karenina with the sentence “Happy families are all alike, unhappy families are unhappy in their own way”. In the same way countries are all alike in their basic PFM requirements and issues but each is unique in its own problems and issues. I have had the privilege of having sat on both sides of the donor table - in India I used to deal with bilateral aid to India and now, for 13 years with the Fund, I have delivered aid to Russia, West African states such as Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Gambia, then 15 Pacific Island countries, and now to Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives.

In his Theban plays Sophocles says “There is nothing new under the sun”. In the same vein, I see in all the countries where I have worked certain fundamental PFM issues that remain the same. Yet diversity in location, size and capacity makes each country and its problems different. This creates a challenge for practitioners at the implementation stage - indeed a philosophical one. Often we tend to believe that we, as TA providers, are guiding the reform process. But, as the Gita tells us, we are not the “doers” – we are at best catalysts in the reform process. As I saw from my experience in India, the main “doers” of reform are the ministers and government officials in any country. They are busy performing the routine functions of government about 90% of their time, failing which they will lose their jobs. This leaves about 10% of their time to engage in the reform process. If government officials have to implement several reforms at the same time, their resources are further stretched, resulting in slow implementation. Factor in a bureaucracy that is often either de-motivated or ambivalent, then none of our efforts will bear fruit!

In sum, we need to be realistic in our hopes and recognize that unless we have a high level champion to provide motivation and guidance, the reform process will be slower than expected, if indeed it will be implemented at all. Reform needs to be combined with sustainable capacity development so that the “doers” can do things themselves, and correctly, while we support them in meaningful ways.

Continue reading "Views from the Field No. 7 – East Asia" »

October 25, 2012

Views from the Field No. 5 – Nepal

Posted by Udaya Pant

Richard Allen interviewed Udaya Pant, FAD’s PFM Advisor in Nepal for the latest in the series “Views from the Field”.  For the first time on the Blog, the interview includes a Poem on PFM, written by Udaya Pant!

RA:  What have been the challenges you experienced in moving to Nepal? How have you dealt with these challenges?

UP:  I first came to Nepal in August 2009, primarily to implement the treasury single account (TSA), using a TSA implementation study report by FAD.  I took a break of about six months from December 2011 and rejoined in June 2012 with a broadened mandate covering almost all aspects of PFM.

Nepal suffers from political uncertainty and turmoil much of the time.  This creates a problem of continuity.  The present Government (in a caretaker role for the past six months) is the fourth one in the last three years. The budget cycle is not respected.  Civil servants have to rotate after every two years. The capacity to implement reforms is low and fiduciary risk in the country very high. I have seen four Prime Ministers, no regular Auditor General, and eight Financial Comptroller Generals (FCGs).  Another problem is that all government business is conducted in the Nepali language and few officials speak English.

Continue reading "Views from the Field No. 5 – Nepal" »

October 18, 2012

Views from the Field No. 4 – Francophone West Africa

Posted by Jean-Gustave Sanon and Bruno Imbert

For the latest in our series of “views from the field” Richard Allen interviewed Jean-Gustave Sanon and Bruno Imbert, FAD’s regional PFM advisors in the IMF’s regional technical assistance center for Western Africa (AFW) based in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). The AFW Center covers ten countries in Francophone West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

RA: What are the main challenges of PFM in the region?

JGS/BI: All of the countries are engaged in relatively “advanced” PFM reforms including multi-year budgeting, performance-based budgets and accrual accounting. Such reforms are obviously a huge challenge for countries that are frequently cited as lacking basic tools and methods of PFM. The Republic of Guinea has recently adopted a new by-law on public finance and soon Mauritania will start working on a new financial constitution as well, with FAD and AFW support. Developments in the Western African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), which includes all the AFW countries except Guinea and Mauritania, are a major driver of PFM reform across the region. In 2009, the Council of Ministers of WAEMU passed six regional by-laws (directives) which have to be transposed by the member states into their own legal framework and will substantially affect the way their PFM systems operate.

Continue reading "Views from the Field No. 4 – Francophone West Africa" »

October 01, 2012

Views from the Field No. 2 – Regional PFM Advisor for Central Asia

Posted by John Zohrab

For the second in our series of “Views from the Field” Richard Allen interviewed John Zohrab, FAD’s regional PFM advisor for Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan.  John, who is a New Zealand citizen, is based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. 

RA:  What have been the challenges you have experienced in working in the countries of Central Asia?

JZ:  The main challenge has been to convince governments in the region that we will make a valuable contribution to their work. This is not just a technical issue, but also one of trust. Accepting a “man from the IMF” as an advisor is not an easy decision for any ministry, as ministries are concerned that we will try to direct rather than advise them. Meeting the challenge of convincing ministries that our contribution has a unique, high value and that we can be trusted requires us to demonstrate our skill and sincerity every day in everything we do.

Continue reading "Views from the Field No. 2 – Regional PFM Advisor for Central Asia" »

September 28, 2012

Public Prominence and “Muscle” — the Role of the French Court of Accounts

Posted by Maximilien Queyranne and Delphine Moretti

Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) are the national bodies, found in many countries around the globe, responsible for reviewing public expenditure and providing an independent opinion on government financial reporting. The Court of Accounts (Cour des Comptes) in France is one of these bodies but has a wider range of responsibilities, and a more prominent place in public life and political debates than in other countries.

The Court is part of the judicial system and consequently operates independently of the executive and legislative branches of government. Since a ruling by the Supreme Court (Conseil Constitutionnel) in 2001, the Court’s independence as well as its institutional relationship with the executive and legislative branches has been protected by the Constitution. A revision of the Constitution in July 2008 incorporated these important principles (article 47-2).

Continue reading "Public Prominence and “Muscle” — the Role of the French Court of Accounts" »

September 26, 2012

New FAD Brochure Explains It All

Posted by the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF

The casual reader of the PFM Blog may have wondered what part of the IMF is actually responsible for the posts on this website. The website is maintained by the two PFM Divisions in the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD), one of the functional (in contrast to geographic) departments of the IMF. For the upcoming Annual Meetings of IMF and World Bank Group in Tokyo from October 9-14 the attached brochure has been produced. It should be clear that FAD is much more than PFM alone! 

Download FAD Brochure 2012

Continue reading "New FAD Brochure Explains It All" »

September 25, 2012

Views from the Field No. 1 – AFRITAC South

Posted by Vijay Ramachandran and Jean-Luc Helis

AFS1
The PFM blog is launching a new series of “Views from the Field”, aimed at presenting the experience and views of PFM advisors and government officials working in developing countries and regions. We anticipate that the series will be of special interest to practitioners in the field.  The first post in the series is written by the two resident PFM Advisors in AFRITAC South (AFS): Vijay Ramachandran (VR) and Jean-Luc Helis (JLH).  AFS, based in Mauritius, is the IMF’s regional technical assistance center (RTAC) covering 12 countries in Southern Africa.  The countries use three different official languages—English, French, and Portuguese—which adds to the practical challenges of working in the region but also to the variety and richness of the working environment.

Vijay and Jean-Luc were interviewed recently by FAD’s Richard Allen (RA).

RA:  What are the main strengths and challenges of PFM in the region?

VR/JLH:  The region has focal points of excellence like South Africa and Mauritius which provide opportunities for peer-to-peer exchanges. AFS member countries are able to provide regular updates on rudimentary cash based revenue and expenditure information. Member countries are also able to appropriate annual budgets in accordance with constitutional provisions.  The main PFM challenges being addressed in the region are risks related to mineral and customs union revenues; legal frameworks that require updating; weak medium-term policy perspectives; obsolete and non-functional IT systems; fluctuating ownership of reforms;  and weak capacity for implementing reforms.

Continue reading "Views from the Field No. 1 – AFRITAC South" »

September 14, 2012

Recent Meetings of the PEMPAL Network in Europe and Central Asia

Posted by Deanna Aubrey, PEMPAL PFM Adviser

The three ‘communities of practice’ of budget, treasury, and internal audit of the Public Expenditure Management Peer Assisted Learning (PEMPAL) network had a series of meetings in the first six months of 2012. PEMPAL covers up to 22 governments in the Europe and Central Asia region and brings practitioners together regularly to discuss common priority issues in PFM reform. PEMPAL is supported by the World Bank, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Russian Federation, and OECD SIGMA.

Members of Treasury Community of Practice (TCoP) gathered in Tbilisi, Georgia from February 27-29. Treasury experts from 10 countries met to learn more about Georgia’s PFM reforms implemented by the State Treasury Service, who co-hosted the meeting. The workshop was an opportunity to exchange experiences in modernizing national treasury systems particularly related to issues of integration of external financing. Participants also had the opportunity to visit the customs clearance zone of the Ministry of Finance in Lilo district in Tbilisi as an example of modernization public services through information technology. More information can be found at http://www.pempal.org/event/read/55 and in IMF’s PFM blog at http://blog-pfm.imf.org/pfmblog/2012/04/georgian-state-treasury-hosts-workshop-on-treasury-and-external-financing-reforms.html

Fifty-seven participants from Ministries of Finance from 18 ECA countries from Budget Community of Practice (BCOP) met in Bohinj, Slovenia on March 27-29 to exchange experiences in program budgeting as part of the Budget Community of Practice (BCOP) work program. Country cases of France, Australia, Poland, and Slovenia were showcased and reform progress shared by Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Armenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most PEMPAL member countries have implemented elements of program budgeting including defining and identifying programs, formulating program objectives, and selecting performance information. However, the quality of performance information remains generally poor, is in many cases not systematically monitored, and has limited influence on budget decision making. Countries acknowledge that the reform process is long and ongoing and are planning on exchanging information and meeting more on this topic in the future. More information can be found at http://www.pempal.org/event/read/58 and in IMF’s PFM blog at http://blog-pfm.imf.org/pfmblog/2012/05/program-budgeting-is-on-the-reform-agenda-across-europe-and-central-asia.html

Continue reading "Recent Meetings of the PEMPAL Network in Europe and Central Asia" »

August 17, 2012

The sequencing debate is over… or is it?

Posted by Philipp Krause*

There seems to be an emerging consensus that advanced budget reforms should not be attempted in developing countries before budgetary basics have been soundly established. In many countries, this may well mean a focus on budgetary basics for the foreseeable future, consigning more advanced techniques to the inbox of another generation of budget officials.

It has not always been so. It has been 15 years since Allen Schick first warned practitioners to “look before they leapfrog”. It shouldn’t be forgotten that his warning came in response to widespread enthusiasm for adopting New Public Management reforms the world over. An often overlooked feature of Schick’s work is his emphasis on the external factors that function as preconditions for advanced budget systems to become viable. For instance, Schick noted that New-Zealand-style contractualism in the public sector only becomes viable in countries where informality has been firmly overcome in private sector practices.

A few weeks ago, Colin Talbot noted that Britain is another example for just such a co-evolution of public sector and private sector practice: in the mid-19th century, private sector property rights, democratic accountability and the professionalization of the civil service all proceeded in lockstep over the course of several decades. One might also add that the formal budget process was only established towards the end of this evolution, in the 1860s. Talbot’s key point is about co-evolution: large-scale societal changes depend on one another as they develop, and such developments are at best measured in decades and possibly a lot longer.

Continue reading "The sequencing debate is over… or is it?" »

August 10, 2012

Au Revoir, Michel!

Posted by Greg Horman

Lazare small
Michel Lazare, the founder and chief editor of the PFM Blog, recently moved position from the Public Financial Management Division II in the Fiscal Affairs Department, where he managed the delivery of PFM technical assistance to countries in Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and French- and Portuguese-speaking Africa. Now in the African Department, Michel is involved in the Fund’s relationship with four post-crisis countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Greg Horman reflects with Michel on the place of PFM in the Fund’s TA and surveillance activities and how reform efforts can be supported.

Greg: You are returning to your macroeconomic roots at the Fund after eight years in FAD. How has the Fund’s interest in PFM evolved during that time?

Michel: Traditionally, the Fund’s focus was narrowly on monetary and fiscal policy. Nowadays, PFM is recognized as having macroeconomic and macro-fiscal implications. Over the years, the Fund has realized how PFM tools and institutions, including formal rules and bodies, contribute to facilitating and maintaining fiscal sustainability. Commitment controls, for instance, are now better understood as a mechanism for maintaining fiscal discipline, ensuring that spending is in line with the budget and helping to achieve the government’s fiscal objectives.

Continue reading "Au Revoir, Michel!" »

June 15, 2012

PEFA NewsFlash No. 19 - PEFA Steering Committee launching Phase IV of the Program

PEFA Steering Committee launching Phase IV of the Program

The PEFA Steering Committee met for its ordinary six-monthly meeting on June 11-12, hosted and chaired by the World Bank. The meeting confirmed that all arrangements are in place for the transition to Phase IV of the Program, which will commence on July 1, including:

  • Approval of the publication of the PEFA Phase IV Program Document;  click on the link to access the [program document]
  • Confirmation of the establishment of the new trust fund to finance Phase IV;
  • Signing of the first agreement for contribution to the trust fund with SECO Switzerland to the tune of USD 3,588,000 for the five years of Phase IV;
  • Change of PEFA Secretariat management – Frans Ronsholt is leaving after more than six years as Head of Secretariat. Phil Sinnett has been appointed to succeed Frans as Head; he is well known to most PEFA Stakeholders, having joined the Secretariat in September 2009.  

The Steering Committee also took stock of the achievements during Phase III and discussed the work plan and budget for fiscal year FY13 (July-June) including a number of ongoing activities which will be carried over from Phase III.

The meeting ended with a toast of thanks to Frans for his vision for the Program, the tremendous contribution he has made to the success of Phases II and III, and his effective leadership of the Secretariat over the past six years: the Steering Committee also wished him every success in his future endeavors.

June 12, 2012

Finding a Bi-partisan Fiscal Rule for the US: An Interview with Maya MacGuineas

Posted By Carla Sateriale

Continuing our series of interviews with PFM professionals, research assistant Carla Sateriale spoke to Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Director of the Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation. Ms. MacGuineas is a non-partisan fiscal policy consultant and works to promote public understanding of budgetary issues.

Ms. MacGuineas, what originally captured your interest in budgeting issues?

I used to work on Wall Street during the mid-nineties, where I got the chance to observe how the bond market reacted to fiscal deficits. While the deficits at that time seem miniscule by today’s standards, they convinced me of the significance of sound fiscal policy.   

Continue reading "Finding a Bi-partisan Fiscal Rule for the US: An Interview with Maya MacGuineas" »

June 06, 2012

The Independence of Supreme Audit Institutions: Celebrated in New York, But Often Ignored Back Home

Posted by Guilhem Blondy

On December 22, 2011 the 66th United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution "Promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening supreme audit institutions." 

The General Assembly recognizes that SAIs can accomplish their tasks objectively and effectively only if they are independent of the audited entity and are protected against outside influence, as well as the important role of SAIs in promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration, which is conducive to the achievement of national development objectives and priorities.

The UN General Assembly also takes note with appreciation of the work of International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), and encourages Member States to apply the principles set out in its Lima and Mexico declarations.

Continue reading "The Independence of Supreme Audit Institutions: Celebrated in New York, But Often Ignored Back Home" »

April 13, 2012

PEFA NewsFlash: Recordatorio - Primer Foro sobre el PEFA - 3 de mayo de 2012, Miami, EE.UU.

Por La Secretaría del PEFA

Pefa logo
Les recordamos que el primer Foro sobre el PEFA tendrá lugar el jueves 03 de mayo 2012 con ocasión de la conferencia de primavera del Consorcio Internacional sobre la Gestión Financiera Gubernamental (ICGFM), que se celebrará en Miami, Estados Unidos, del 30 abril al 4 de mayo de 2012.

Nuestro objetivo es establecer un diálogo entre todas las partes interesadas en el PEFA, especialmente los funcionarios gubernamentales de los países involucrados en las reformas de la GFP, los representantes de otros organismos internacionales de desarrollo y expertos en la aplicación del Marco del PEFA, dispuestos a participar en un debate abierto sobre la dirección futura del programa PEFA con el fin de "Satisfacer las necesidades de todos los actores del PEFA".

Continue reading "PEFA NewsFlash: Recordatorio - Primer Foro sobre el PEFA - 3 de mayo de 2012, Miami, EE.UU." »

February 10, 2012

Blog Reform: A PFM Success Story!

 

Dear Readers,

For the first time since the blog's launch in 2007, we have introduced a significant modernization of the PFM blog's layout. We hope you enjoy the new design, especially the new global hit counter to track the geographic reach of the blog. Most of all, thanks for making the PFM blog a success!

-The PFM Blog Team

Blog Reform: A PFM Success Story?

Dear Readers,

For the first time since the blog's launch in 2007, we have introduced a somewhat new look for the PFM Blog. We hope you enjoy the new design, and especially the new global hit counter to track the geographic reach of the blog. Let us know if you have any suggestions for further improvements. Most of all, thank you for making the PFM Blog a success, and please remember that we are always open to posts on alternative approaches, successes and failures, or lessons learned from other organizations, practitioners in the field, and government officials struggling with the implementation of reforms!

The PFM Blog Team

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.

January 09, 2012

Latest Issue of International Journal of Governmental Financial Management published

Posted by Andy Wynne

The latest issue of the International Journal of Governmental Financial Management was recently published and is now available for free download from: www.icgfm.org/journal.htm

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January 06, 2012

New IMF Job Offers: Regional Public Financial Management Advisors Based in Ljubljana, Slovenia (Job Number: 1200008)

The Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) of the IMF is seeking highly-qualified experts to fill a Regional Public Financial Management (PFM) Advisor position at the Center of Excellence in Finance (CEF) based in Ljubljana, Slovenia as part of a regional program of technical assistance (TA) funded by the Japanese government. The Advisor's appointment term would be for an initial period of one year starting from May 2012, on a renewable basis, subject to satisfactory performance.

The CEF is a leading regional institution whose main aim is to promote capacity development in public financial management and central banking in South East Europe. The Supervisory Board of the CEF is comprised of ministers of finance and central bank governors of the member countries. The IMF has worked with the CEF since its inception and 2010 saw the institution celebrate its 10th anniversary. During this time the CEF has developed an extensive network and infrastructure that offers comprehensive support to a number of regional capacity development initiatives with a specific focus on institutional development. The CEF primarily focuses on design and delivery of tailor-made training programs for staff working in the public sector and central banks and, with the assistance of the IMF the delivery of technical assistance to the region.

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December 29, 2011

The PFM Blog Top Ten of 2011: A diverse bunch…….

Posted by Holger van Eden, with support from Sasha Pitrof

If there is a theme in the best read blog posts of 2011, it is perhaps the continuing struggle in the PFM profession to improve the performance of government expenditure. Given the ongoing major adjustments of governments around the world, and especially in Europe, it is perhaps not surprising that doing “more with less” or even doing “less with even less” is high on the agenda. At number 7 our colleague Guilhem Blondy describes how in a developing country as Mali the budget has only gradually become more effective, more aligned with the strategic objectives of government, by introducing program budgeting, but not forgetting to improve basic budget functions. At number 6 Sanjay Vani from the World Bank describes how waste and inefficiency plague even advanced countries’ public sectors through a lack of incentives and excessive zeal for procedure. Blog post number 4 from David Gentry, the Fund’s PFM Advisor in Mongolia discusses the dilemmas of actually rewarding success in the government. If agencies achieve all their objectives isn’t that a sign that they could do with a smaller budget? But if this is carried through then of course no agency will want to perform well. Performance management and budgeting remains an area were the profession is still looking for practical approaches.

The top three this year is a very diverse bunch. The World Bank’s Cen Dener reports at number 3 that the Bank now understands better how to make the development of Financial Management Information Systems a success, and perhaps that criticism on the Bank in the past has been overdone. At number 2, one of our star bloggers, Richard Allen, describes how on the one hand national planning systems are essential for development (even for advanced economies?), but on the other hand should, in developing countries, be less directive and more aligned with medium-term budgeting. Finally, many congratulations to the winner of the best read blog post of the year, Carla Sateriale, our talented, research assistant in the PFM divisions of the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD). In an interview with our former director, Vito Tanzi, she managed to elicit some sage advice on how academics and policy makers should remain grounded in reality, and know there history.

If you haven’t read up on all these interesting topics, please find the top ten blogs of the year below. On behalf of us here at the PFM Blog, I would like to thank all our authors for their productivity and our readers for their attention. Happy New Year to all!

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September 21, 2011

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.

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July 29, 2011

Creative Use of IT Systems in the Budget Office: Collaborative Budget Formulation Systems Show Promise

Posted by Sandeep Saxena

Automation of budget formulation processes has had limited success compared to the strides taken by many countries in computerization of budget execution and accounting functions. There have been fewer successful examples of computerized budget formulation. This anomaly may be partly attributed to the absence of standards in the budget formulation process. Unlike accounting systems that have rather well established processes and standards, the budget formulation process varies from country to country. The country-specific peculiarities mean that in order to succeed, a budget formulation system has to be much more flexible and adaptable to the local requirements.

 A recent study by the IMF’s regional technical assistance center in the Caribbean (CARTAC) explores the potential for use of a content management system (CMS) for operating the budget formulation process. The study, “A Collaborative Budget Formulation System: Concepts and Options,” John Moore, July 2011 (found here) concludes that information management products like Alfresco and MS SharePoint, among others, can offer rapid, flexible development of new business applications, including a budget formulation system, without having to depend on scarce ICT support resources.   

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June 22, 2011

Postcard from São Paulo: the Latest Global Fiscal News—and Some of It’s Actually Good

Posted by Carlo Cottarelli and previously published on iMFdirect

Cc 
In São Paulo, Brazil last Friday we launched our latest assessment of the state of government finances, debts, and deficits.  While many countries are slogging through a tough fiscal time, there is some good news, including in the United States where the deficit will be lower this year than previously expected.  I will also give you an assessment of how the new information affects our sense of what needs to be done in the future.

Let me start by talking about the advanced economies where, as is well known, the fiscal accounts are generally weaker, reflecting large increases in deficits and debt ratios since the start of the crisis in 2008.

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April 11, 2011

Professor Allen Schick: "Government Shutdowns – Uniquely American"

 Posted by Michel Lazare

As you know, a last-minute agreement on this year's budget among the leaders of the US Congress avoided a partial shutdown of the US Federal Government. Failing this budget agreement, a partial shutdown would have occurred at midnight on April 8 when the time-bound resolutions that had funded the Federal Government so far in this fiscal year would have expired.

Such possible partial shutdowns are "uniquely American," as Professor Allen Schick explains in the interview he gave a few days ago to Marco Werman, the anchor of the National Public Radio show "The World."

Disclosure: as Marco Werman indicates during the interview, Allen Schick has worked for the IMF's Fiscal affairs Department as a consultant. Even better, he is a very good friend of many contributors to our PFM Blog!

January 04, 2011

The Top Ten Blog Posts of 2010

Posted by Holger van Eden

On behalf of the staff of the Public Financial Management Divisions I and II of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, I would like to wish our readers—budget and treasury officials from around the around the world,  PFM practitioners, our dear colleagues from the World Bank, students and academics, and counterparts in the donor community—a happy and prosperous New Year. The list of blog posts below presents the best read posts published in 2010 on the PFM Blog. A post by Michel Lazare on our department’s new flagship publication, the IMF Fiscal Monitor, drove the most web traffic last year. This reflects the prominent position the Fiscal Monitor has achieved in a relatively short time span next to other significant IMF publications such as the World Economic Outlook. Among the other posts a significant number focus on government accounting. The ongoing discussion on the extent to which accrual accounting should be integrated into PFM practices is still raising much interest it seems. For the PFM Blog itself 2010 was a very good year. We passed the half million pages viewed since our start-up three years ago. The readership grew with a healthy 31 percent per year. We hope that our readers will continue using the Blog in the coming year as an information source and discussion medium on PFM issues, and we invite readers to share their insights and experience through own postings.

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November 04, 2010

How to Bake a (Cr)edible Medium-term Fiscal Pie

By Olivier Blanchard and Carlo Cottarelli

How can governments have their cake and eat it too? How can fiscal policy provide sufficient support to economic activity, and reassure markets that fiscal solvency is not at risk? The poor state of fiscal accounts of most advanced countries calls for austere fiscal policies, before the confidence crisis that is now hitting a few small advanced economies spreads to the larger ones. But not right now: a frontloaded adjustment—that is a tightening that is not gradual but falls disproportionately early in the adjustment phase—could destabilize the recovery.

But can countries limit frontloading and still achieve credibility? Yes, but baking the right fiscal pie is likely to require a number of ingredients. While the exact recipe depends on country circumstances, here are our suggested ingredients.

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October 05, 2010

Hurrah: PFM Blog is Celebrating its Third Anniversary Today

Posted by Michel Lazare

Hurrah, it is our third anniversary today: PFM Blog was unveiled to the public on October 5, 2007.

More than 500 posts and nearly half a million pages viewed later, our baby is clearly a success and is still growing at a very healthy pace (our traffic at the end of September was one third above last year's level).

Looking back at our initial objectives, as set in the inaugural post by the then Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department, Teresa Ter-Minassian, we are clearly on the road to achieving all of them.

Great many thanks to our numerous readers, to all our regular and occasional authors, and to our blogmasters' team who have made the PFM Blog what it is today: a reference website for all those interested in public financial management.

Long live PFM Blog!

December 07, 2007

African Parliamentarians Discuss Ways to Promote Good Governance in the Management of Public Finance

2535901 Posted by Lubin Doe

The training center known as the Joint Africa Institute (JAI), created by the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank (ADB), organized a five-day seminar in Tunis on the “Role of Parliamentarians in Promoting Good Public Financial Management (PFM) and Accountability.”

The seminar regrouped 26 legislators and officials from 8 English-speaking African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda). The team of presenters included Messrs Mitchell O’Brien (World Bank), Lubin Doe (IMF), Per Eldar Sovik (ADB), Augustine Ruzindana (African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption), Adams Fusheni (Canada Parliamentary Center) and Niall Johnston (parliamentary consultant).

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December 05, 2007

Germany: Ministry of Finance's Task Force Recommends Introduction of Performance Budgeting and Accrual Accounting

Posted by Michel Lazare

A few days ago, our FAD colleague and PFM Blog author Marc Robinson published a short article in IMFSurvey Magazine titled "Major Reforms for German Budget System." Here is a summary of the key points; the full text of the article is accessible by clicking here.

The German Ministry of Finance's Budget and Accounting Reform Task Force, who was assisted by staff of FAD, recently recommended "the introduction of product budgets--often known elsewhere as programs. The intention is to focus greater attention in the budget formulation stage on choices about how much money is allocated to" various outputs.

"Under the task force's proposals, the product budgets would not in the first instance be used for parliamentary budget appropriations. The idea is that they would initially be used [...] in formulating the budget. The logical next step would, however, be to shift the annual budget law also onto programmatic basis."

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November 23, 2007

IMF Fiscal Affairs Department: an Update of Activities in 2007

Snap1_2 Posted by Michel Lazare

For a long time you have suffered from a burning desire to know what the IMF's Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) is up to. You never dared to ask? Well...this posting is made for you!

Already, our PFM Blog's "about" tag on top of this page contains some general information about what is FAD's role.

The attached 4-page flyer (Download fad_flyer1.pdf), which was prepared to provide an update of FAD's activities in 2007 to the participants to the 2007 Annual Meeting of the IMF in October contains an overview of FAD key responsibilities and outputs.

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September 27, 2007

Welcome to the New IMF Public Financial Management Blog

Welcome to the Public Financial Management Blog of the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD).

As the first IMF external blog and, to the best of our knowledge, the first PFM blog ever, my FAD colleagues and myself are thrilled to be breaking new ground.

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