PFM Reform

March 20, 2015


1421 - St Elizabeth Flod

Posted By Vitor Gaspar, Richard Hughes, and Laura Jaramillo

Fortune, wrote Machiavelli five hundred years ago in The Prince, is like a violent river. She “shows her power where virtue has not been put in order to resist her and therefore turns her impetus where she knows that dams and dikes have not been made to contain her.” Managing the ebb and flow of government’s fiscal fortunes poses similar challenges today. We need a risk-based approach to fiscal policymaking that applies a systematic analysis of potential sources of fiscal vulnerabilities. This method would help countries detect potential problems early, and would allow for institutional changes to build resilience.


January 27, 2015

Book Announcement: Reconstructing Iraq's Budgetary Institutions: Coalition State Building After Saddam

  Savage, J.D
Posted by James D. Savage, University of Virginia

The invasion of Iraq led to a costly nine-year state-building and reconstruction effort. Reconstructing Iraq's budgetary institutions proved to be a vital element of the state-building project, as allocating Iraq's growing oil revenues to pay salaries and pensions, build infrastructure, and provide essential public services played a key role in the Coalition's counterinsurgency strategy.  Employing a historical institutionalist approach, this book first explores the Ottoman, British, and Ba'athist origins of Iraq's budgetary institutions. The book next examines American pre-war planning, the Coalition Provisional Authority's rule making and budgeting following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the mixed success of the Coalition's capacity-building programs initiated throughout the occupation. The budgetary process introduced by the Coalition offered a source of institutional stability in the midst of insurgency, sectarian violence, economic uncertainty, and occupation. This book explores the problem of "outsiders" building states, contributes to a more comprehensive evaluation of the Coalition in Iraq, addresses the question of why Iraqis took ownership of some Coalition-generated institutions and not others, and helps explain the nature of institutional change.

Continue reading "Book Announcement: Reconstructing Iraq's Budgetary Institutions: Coalition State Building After Saddam" »

July 21, 2014

Philippines: A Competency Model for PFM Professionals


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 16, 2014

Politics Matter…But PFM Reforms Do Too.

Posted by Carlos Scartascini*

The recent CAPE 2013 conference organized by ODI provided a forum for discussing where PFM is and where it is going. While many interesting issues arose from the discussions, one theme was ever present: namely, the importance of considering PFM as much more than a purely technocratic process. Politics matter, and they tend to determine the way reforms are implemented, and their probability of success. In this note, I highlight the reasons why politics matter for the budget process and how this issue can be dealt with.

Continue reading "Politics Matter…But PFM Reforms Do Too." »

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 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…..


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. 

Continue reading "Budgeting in the Real World - What Do We Know? What Should We Do?" »

August 21, 2013

Guinea – A Decade of Public Financial Management Reforms

Posted By Abdoul Wane[1]

In this latest in the series of blog posts by IMF area department country teams, IMF Resident Representative Abdul Wane reviews the mixed progress of PFM reform in Guinea.

Against the backdrop of economic fragility and fiscal challenges, Guinea’s medium-term programs supported by Fund arrangements over the last decade aimed to reduce financial imbalances. The growth objectives were predicated on greater fiscal discipline and an improved quality of public spending. Fiscal consolidation was to be supported by tax policy and tax administration reforms and a gradual shift in budget allocations toward priority spending, including investment. To address these challenges structural measures in Fund programs – as well as program conditionality - focused largely on PFM reforms (Figure 1 below). The 2001 PRGF request included three structural performance criteria (PC) of which two were on PFM reforms. Likewise, the 2007 PRGF request included six PCs on PFM out of a total of nine PCs.

However, since Guinea never implemented fully a program supported by the IMF, several measures had to be reprogrammed in successor programs. The sluggish implementation of reforms partly reflects Guinea’s political and institutional fragility. Vested interests stalled the reform agendas, in the absence of checks and balances. Important structural measures could not be implemented fully or were reversed because of insufficient political support, and control systems were bypassed under the watch of the political leadership. As a result, overall performance in PFM reforms has been feeble as periods of regression followed episodes of progress.

Continue reading "Guinea – A Decade of Public Financial Management Reforms" »

July 08, 2013

Keeping Reform in the DRC on Track

Posted by Oscar Melhado Orellana

In this third article on the blog in which IMF area department staff express their views on PFM reforms in “their” country, Fiscal Affairs Department technical assistance advisor, Jean Pierre Nguenang, speaks with IMF Resident Representative for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Oscar Melhado Orellana, about the importance of PFM technical assistance in keeping the IMF program on track.

What contribution are reforms of PFM, revenue administration and tax policy expected to make to improved economic and fiscal performance in the DRC?

The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world in terms of nominal GDP, despite being considered one of the richest countries in terms of natural resources. It has more than 30 percent of the world’s diamond reserves and 70 percent of the world’s coltan. The DRC is also one of the lowest-ranked countries in the international Corruption Perception Index. The government is still struggling to bring order to the eastern part of the country where recurrent attacks on citizens are perpetrated by armed groups opposed to the regime.

Continue reading "Keeping Reform in the DRC on Track" »

July 03, 2013

A New PFM Reform Strategy for Cyprus

Posted by George Panteli[1]

The government of Cyprus recently launched a radical reform plan for modernizing the country’s public financial management (PFM) system. The reforms are crucial to the implementation of the economic and financial recovery program on which we are now engaged with the help of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It will enable Cyprus to bring its budget process into line with best practice in the EU region, and enforce the fiscal rules and financial discipline that are necessary to comply with our Treaty obligations. At the same time, it will create an opportunity for line ministries to enjoy a new-found flexibility in managing their staff and other resources and to focus efforts on improving the quality of education, health and other public services that in many cases lag behind out counterparts in Europe. The strategy encompasses both traditional aspects of the budget system and emerging topics such as project evaluation processes, the management of fiscal risks including public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the future development of a sovereign wealth fund.  

The reform plan is challenging and a realistic timeline is required since the plan will take several years to implement. What are the plan’s main components?  

Continue reading "A New PFM Reform Strategy for Cyprus" »

June 24, 2013

Successful International PFM Workshop for IFMIS Coordinators at IDB

Posted by Carlos Pimenta[1]

This event, which took place in Washington, DC from May 15-17, discussed the PFM challenges faced in modernizing Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS), as they relate to technology, public accounting, treasury and budget. The workshop was attended by about 120 participants, including IFMIS coordinators from 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, private consulting firms, international experts and staff from IDB, IMF and World Bank.

The agenda of the event included topics such as: (1) How to measure progress in efficiency and quality of PFM reforms and systems? (2) The role of IFMIS in cost systems and result-based management, (3) Technological advances in IFMIS development, (4) Budget transparency and accountability, (5) Definitions, techniques and regulatory framework for interoperability and its impact on IFMIS context, (6) Change management and IFMIS implementation, and (7) Service management, maintenance and support for IFMIS.

All presentations, speakers and other information can be reached using the links in the Final Report attached below (in English and Spanish) or here

Continue reading "Successful International PFM Workshop for IFMIS Coordinators at IDB" »

June 19, 2013

Post-Crisis PFM Reforms in Mali

Posted by Christian Josz[1]

This is the second article on the blog in a series about the views of IMF area department staff on PFM reforms in “their” country. In this article Fiscal Affairs Department technical assistance advisor, Benoit Taiclet, speaks with  IMF mission chief for Mali, Christian Josz, about the importance of PFM technical assistance in keeping the IMF program on track. 

Josz and Taiclet
What are the challenges of working in Mali at the present time?  How resilient has the country been in the face of the recent political and economic crisis?

Mali ranks among the poorest countries in the world, and has been under a succession of IMF programs for more than two decades. External funding has always played a significant role in the country’s development with grants reaching more than three percent of GDP. More recently, in 2011 the economy traversed a very difficult period when the country was hit by a drought and terrorist attacks. Following the 2012 military coup, fueled by military defeats, persistent corruption and failing institutions, donors suspended or dramatically reduced their support.  By the end of 2012, despite the fiscal austerity measures taken by the government, including the cutting of almost all capital spending, substantial arrears had accumulated, and the country’s debt rose markedly.

Faced with such concerns, the Fund seized the opportunity of last year’s slight recovery to re-settle in the country, with the reinstatement of our Resident Representative’s office in late 2012. We stepped up our involvement in early 2013 when the military situation was resolved with the fielding of an international coalition against rebel separatists and terrorists.

In the first quarter of 2013, the recommitment of IMF support through a rapid credit facility helped trigger the return of a number of donors whose pledges for funding reached US$ 4 billion in May. Now we hope the economy will rebound, as the authorities move to overcome the challenges ahead, and the production of gold and agricultural products increases. But political and security risks still cast a cloud over the nascent recovery.

Continue reading "Post-Crisis PFM Reforms in Mali" »

June 14, 2013

Time to Overhaul PFM in the UK?

Posted by Tom Josephs

Should the public sector aim to follow the approach to financial control used in the private sector?  In 2011 the UK government took a step in this direction by publishing the first Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) which consolidate the financial accounts of over 1,500 organizations across the public sector on a similar basis to commercial accounting.  Two recent papers[1] suggest that the UK government should build on this initiative—following the introduction of accrual-based accounting and budgeting ten years earlier—by developing better financial control structures which mirror those used in the private sector. The ideas put forward provide a useful contribution to this debate.

WGA is based on the system of accounts used internationally by the private sector, adapted where appropriate for the public sector, and uses a similar presentation to private sector accounts. It is the first time a consolidated set of accounts has been published for the UK public sector. Because it follows commercial accounting practices it should open up the public sector finances to wider external scrutiny by accounting professionals. While WGA’s contribution to increased transparency has been widely recognized it has yet to find a role in policy-making.  Partly this reflects the fact that it is a relatively new innovation. It is unfamiliar to policy-makers and there is no historical series and few international comparators against which to benchmark the current position.  There are significant differences between the key measures of the public sector deficit and net liability position found in WGA compared to the equivalent National Accounts measures produced by the UK’s national statistical agency which are currently used in fiscal policy-making.

Continue reading "Time to Overhaul PFM in the UK?" »

June 07, 2013

Treasury Community of Practice Debates Internal Control Issues in Kiev

Posted by Mark Silins

The Treasury Community of Practice (TCOP) of PEMPAL[1] conducted a highly participative three-day workshop entitled “Internal Control and the Role of a Modern Treasury” from April 24–26, 2013.  Over 60 officials, including treasury managers and specialists from 18 TCOP-member countries, as well as representatives of the Ministries of Finance of the Netherlands and Ireland, took part in the workshop held in Kiev, Ukraine. The workshop was also supported by experts from the World Bank, OECD, and the Slovenian Centre of Excellence in Finance.

The general objective of the Kiev event was to provide an opportunity for TCOP members to exchange experiences and take stock of the steps taken to date in implementing internal controls in each country and what, if any, steps remained. The workshop discussed both the role of a treasury in terms of managing internal controls within its own operations along with the broader role of the treasury as a key player within the overall public internal control framework in government. Prior to the workshop, participant countries responded to a 40-question survey to ascertain the status of their internal controls in relation to both of these two roles. Responses to the surveys proved extremely useful in designing an agenda relevant to participating countries.

Continue reading "Treasury Community of Practice Debates Internal Control Issues in Kiev" »

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.

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" »

May 28, 2013

PFM Law Reforms: Balancing Legislative and Executive Powers

Posted by Kubai Khasiani and Florence Kuteesa

A growing number of Parliaments in Commonwealth African countries are casting off their Westminster inheritance and demanding a greater role of parliaments in budget decision-making. The last decade has seen restive backbenchers in some of  these countries bring forward Private Member’s Bills which look to enhancing the legislature’s powers over the public purse at the expense of the executive. This approach has sometimes been fiercely contested or not fully supported, and the product of this struggle between the branches of government leaves many unresolved issues and, in some cases, an outcome that is fiscally challenging to the country.

For almost half a century after achieving their independence, former British colonies in Africa implemented a budget preparation system that enshrined a weak legislature and a strong executive in the decision-making process. Ian Lienert examined the British influence on budget systems in Tanzania, as an example, and noted that the  parliament was engaged only very late in the budget preparation process, had limited powers to alter the government budget after it was presented, and was often not consulted about changes made by the government during the budget execution phase. As a result, parliaments seldom had a significant impact on the size or distribution of government revenue or expenditure.

Continue reading "PFM Law Reforms: Balancing Legislative and Executive Powers" »

May 15, 2013

FMIS Choice: the Dangers of In-House Development in Low-Capacity Countries

Posted by Lewis Murara and Christopher Iles[i]

A major decision faced by many countries is what sort of Financial Management Information System (FMIS) they should develop to support their PFM reform efforts. The decision is more difficult in low-capacity countries where implementing an FMIS can have a disproportionate impact on management, operations, and operating costs.

There are three general FMIS options that governments can consider:

  • Bespoke, i.e. own developed software solutions
  • Customized “enterprise resource planning” (ERP) systems
  • Non-customized COTS systems

In making the decision, recent studies[1] have demonstrated that there is no single best solution. Over a decade or so, the tendency in many Latin American countries has been for in-house development of their FMIS, while Africa has preferred commercial off-the-shelf solutions (COTS) and developed countries have tended to favor customized ERPs.

Continue reading "FMIS Choice: the Dangers of In-House Development in Low-Capacity Countries" »

May 10, 2013

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

We begin this issue of our Journal with an examination of key public financial management (PFM) reform measures undertaken in India in the recent past and suggestions to enhance the effectiveness of the PFM systems involved involved. In recent years the role of sound PFM systems in achieving the objectives of fiscal discipline, strategic planning and improved service delivery has been receiving increased public attention in India. PFM reforms undertaken intermittently over the years have, however, not delivered the anticipated results in these areas. Studies and recommendations of government appointed committees and expert bodies have identified gaps that need attention to strengthen the institutional framework and to improve the efficiency of government spending.

Continue reading "Latest Issue of International Journal of Governmental Financial Management Published" »

April 08, 2013

Reforming PFM in Developing Countries

Posted by Richard Allen[i]

I recently had the pleasure of discussing PFM reform issues with senior officials of the Ministry of Finance in Jamaica and, a few days later, at a workshop in Trinidad for the member countries of the IMF’s Caribbean Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) which was attended by several Finance Secretaries from the region. In Jamaica, reform of the public sector is high on the government’s agenda as a result of the negative impact of the global financial crisis, high levels of indebtedness and a weak economy. Finance officials in other parts of the region are trying to reconcile the need to make important structural reforms with the day-to-day pressures of managing the budget and dealing with myriad other financial contingencies. 

What are the main messages that came out of these various interesting conversations?

Continue reading "Reforming PFM in Developing Countries" »

April 03, 2013

Make Way for the Hybrids

Posted by Matt Andrews. This article was originally published by Foreign Policy on April 2, 2013.

Development experts are often quick to focus on the role of institutions. They are, simply put, the "rules of the game" derived over time that drive politics, economics, and other social interactions. Social scientists like Douglass North, Daron Acemoglu, and Jim Robinson have shown that these rules strongly influence how countries grow and develop. Over decades, theorists and development practitioners have compiled what one might consider a script of the "right" rules and institutions needed to foster economic growth and open societies with good governments that advance the needs of their citizens. But despite all the good intentions, this western-created game plan hasn't quite worked out as expected. 

Organizations like the World Bank have supported institutional reforms in developing countries for more than two decades now, often making it the backbone of their development agendas. Such work accounts for billions of dollars of development spending each year, devoted to creating democratic electoral processes, robust public financial management systems, effective anticorruption regimes, and other new rules of the game in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Uganda. 

At first glance, many of these reforms seem to have yielded success. In Afghanistan, for example, new laws adopted after 2003 have modernized the government's budgeting and financial management system. The system's quality was ranked "higher than a middle-income country" in a 2008 assessment using the multi-donor Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) framework, which compares countries' governance systems with what is considered "international good practice." Similarly, Uganda's anticorruption reforms have produced new laws that donors tout as world-class. The think-tank Global Integrity rated these laws as best in the world in 2008, giving them a perfect 100 score. Canada scored 90; Italy got 82. 

Continue reading "Make Way for the Hybrids" »

March 15, 2013

CARTAC Discusses PFM Reform Strategies and State Enterprises

Posted by Eileen Brown and Matthew Smith

Senior finance officials from several CARTAC countries participated in a lively CARTAC workshop in Trinidad from February 25-27 with international experts Richard Allen and David Shand. The workshop discussed how to best structure finance ministries to meet demands to sustain economic growth; how to design their PFM reform strategies and get the most from technical assistance; and how to manage the fiscal risks of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The countries represented were Antigua, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and Suriname. There were 22 participants as well as the two presenters and two facilitators.

“This workshop really worked for me,” said Devon Rowe, Jamaica’s Financial Secretary (FS) “because it verified some options I was considering and it opened me up to new ideas based on what worked for my Caribbean colleagues.  Mostly it persuaded me that we all benefit when we share experiences. There are mistakes that we will not have to repeat because Dominica, St. Lucia, Antigua and BVI have shared their missteps as well as their successes with us.”

“Dominica always learns something and I am gratified we were able to share so much of what we learned with others” said FS Rosamund Edwards.

“I could write a book of do’s and do not’s in reform,” said Deputy FS John Edwards.  “I like the structure of this workshop – experts tell us about new thinking and world experience, and then respond constructively when we tell them what obtains in the region.”  Antigua and Barbuda had enjoyed a wealth of technical assistance funding and worked hard to properly sequence it.

Continue reading "CARTAC Discusses PFM Reform Strategies and State Enterprises" »

February 01, 2013

PEFA Newsflash: Taking the Magnifying Glass to the PEFA Assessment Report Preparation Documents

Posted by the PEFA Secretariat

The PEFA Secretariat recently finalized the Monitoring Report 2012 (MR-12), the fifth report of this nature to be produced by the Secretariat. The report was designed to assess (a) the extent to which the PEFA assessment report preparation documents, referred to as Concept Notes or Terms of References (CN/TORs) reach the Secretariat for review (b) the quality of the CN/TORs at the draft stage when the Secretariat provides their peer-review, (c) the extent to which the PEFA Secretariat comments are integrated into the final CN/TORs, and (d) examine possible correlations between the quality of a PEFA assessment report and their respective CN/TOR; however, this last question had to be dropped due to the multitude of variables that exist in producing a quality assessment report.

The report considers the 129 reviews conducted of CN/TORs between September 2005 and June 2012, of which a sample of 39 are used for an in-depth analysis of their quality and the extent to which the PEFA Secretariat comments are considered. The sample contains those CN/TORs for which the Secretariat was able to obtain the final version, having already reviewed the draft.

Continue reading "PEFA Newsflash: Taking the Magnifying Glass to the PEFA Assessment Report Preparation Documents" »

January 30, 2013

Good Practice Note on Sequencing PFM Reforms – Taking on Board Comments Received

Posted by Jack Diamond


Following the posting of a  draft Guidance Note on Sequencing PFM Reforms on the PEFA website  and on this blog (along with two Background Papers by Messrs. Tommasi and Diamond), the PEFA Steering Committee met on 15 November, 2012 to review the response to a number of comments received. Comments came both from development partners (such as SECO, DFID, the Inter-American Development Bank), as well as PFM experts in the field. Most of the comments dealt with specific issues, and were generally aimed at ensuring greater clarity in the text. Accordingly, the majority of these comments were easily accommodated in revised drafts of the Guidance Note and Background Papers, 1 and 2. There were, however, a number of general issues raised that were more thoroughly discussed by the Steering Committee, which are summarized in this blog.

Continue reading "Good Practice Note on Sequencing PFM Reforms – Taking on Board Comments Received" »

January 29, 2013

PEFA Newsflash: Good Practice Note on Sequencing Reform

Posted by the PEFA Secretariat

Pefa banner
Following publication of the draft “Guidance Note on Sequencing PFM Reforms”together with two Background Papers in September 2012, several comments were received and reviewed by the authors and these have been incorporated into the final version of these papers, published as a 'Good Practice Note'. The work was undertaken following an extensive period of research and debate around the issues between the PEFA Partners, led by IMF and the European Commission. The documents were authored by Jack Diamond (former Division Chief in the IMF's Fiscal Affairs Department), and Daniel Tommasi, and can be found by clicking the links at the bottom of the page.

Continue reading "PEFA Newsflash: Good Practice Note on Sequencing Reform" »

November 26, 2012

Accounting Reforms on the Agenda in Azerbaijan

Posted by Mark Silins

The Treasury Community of Practice (TCOP) of PEMPAL[1] conducted a highly interactive three-day workshop entitled “Public Sector Accounting Policies and Practices” from November 6–8, 2012.  Treasury heads and specialists from 18 TCOP-member countries, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Finance of France, took part in the workshop held in Baku, Azerbaijan. The workshop was supported by experts from the World Bank, OECD, SECO and the Slovenian Centre of Excellence in Finance.

The general objective of the Baku event was to provide an opportunity for TCOP members to exchange experiences in implementing public sector accounting and reporting reforms. The event was designed to deepen participants’ understanding of the conceptual, institutional and operational challenges associated with the implementation of accounting reforms, particularly transition to the use of accruals and alignment with IPSAS. The event involved some very informative presentations by officials from participating countries on good practice and practical tips and traps associated with this area of reform, supplemented by input from a small number of international experts. This approach provided a useful basis for a range of dynamic group discussions by TCOP-member countries. As the host country, Azerbaijan also provided detailed information on its broader economic and PFM reforms to date, along with its plans for the future.

Continue reading "Accounting Reforms on the Agenda in Azerbaijan" »

November 07, 2012

Who Breaks a Butterfly Upon a Wheel? Reforming the French Government 2007-2012

Posted by Maximilien Queyranne

In 2007, at the beginning of President Sarkozy’s mandate, the French government launched an ambitious reform agenda to improve the quality of services to the public, to reduce costs and to modernize management of central government financial and human resources. This program was called RGPP (a French acronym for the general review of public policies). As pointed by the OECD, RGPP was active during a key period for public sector reform in France. This momentum it created was characterized by a cocktail of: (i) a president who solemnly promised during the election campaign of 2007 to drastically modernize and streamline the public sector; (ii) a retirement spike in the public sector which allowed for restructuring and boosting productivity; and (iii) a country with some fiscal room for maneuver, a year before the onset of the global financial and economic crisis.

Five years later, the new government has decided to kill off RGPP, on the basis of a report by government internal auditors. At the same time, the OECD published a special review providing an international perspective on RGPP. These reports show that the OECD and government internal auditors’ analyses are largely consistent regarding RGPP’s scope and objectives, but disagree on the methods and decision-making processes that it employed. The reports also indicate that RGPP was poorly integrated with the PFM reforms initiated by the 2001 Organic Budget Framework Law (Loi organique relative aux lois de finances, LOLF) many of which were implemented before RGPP began.

Continue reading "Who Breaks a Butterfly Upon a Wheel? Reforming the French Government 2007-2012" »

October 31, 2012

The End of Ex-ante Audits? Belgium Takes a Leap Towards Westminster

Posted by Lewis Kabayiza Murara

Uncommon to countries applying the Westminster model of external auditing, the practice of ex-ante audits is not so rare to those following the Napoleonic (or judicial) model of public sector auditing. The Spanish world has also long known the practice of pre-expenditure audits, sometimes by multiple institutions. Ex-ante audits in their most common form mean that the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) is responsible for checking and giving prior approval to certain types of public expenditure.

In countries following the Westminster model, the auditor role may in some cases be combined with that of comptroller, and authorization to spend may be released before payments are made by budget entities. In countries applying the Napoleonic model of external auditing, particularly Belgium, Italy, Portugal and some of their former colonies, it is common for SAIs to issue prior approval before individual payments are made. The difference between the pre-approval practice in the Napoleonic model and the comptroller role in the Westminster model is that the former is a transaction-based, detailed review of certain types of expenditure, while the latter is performed at a higher, aggregate level which does not involve detailed reviews of individual expenditure items. Authorization may involve approval of funds release from the consolidated fund to departmental accounts for a certain period, per expenditure type.

Continue reading "The End of Ex-ante Audits? Belgium Takes a Leap Towards Westminster" »

October 23, 2012

New Budgetary Reforms in Austria: An Emphasis on Flexibility, Performance, and Gender

Posted by Ralph Schmitt-Nilson

Following up on a first set of reforms in 2010, the Austrian budget for 2013 introduces a new set of public financial management (PFM) reforms. Whereas the first stage focused on implementation of a medium-term expenditure framework, the second and latest stage of reform brings fundamental change in a range of fields. It signals three main aspects: more discretion for line ministries, a new performance-oriented budget structure, and a commitment to Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB).

To improve flexibility for line ministries and big federal agencies, appropriations are shifted to a more aggregated level. The budget entities are given clearly structured duties and global budgets for flexible use. The stated rationale is that an increase in autonomy and responsibility leads to more motivated management and staff of institutions and more efficient use of funds. This builds upon positive experiences that Austria has with the introduction of more flexibility for line ministries since 2000. Line ministries also receive the authority to carry over a substantial part of the budget into the next year. The aim is to avoid spending sprees at the end of the fiscal year when departments often look for ways to use up the current budget. A carry-over facility gives them an incentive to remain frugal with their spending until the end of the year and to improve room for maneuver in the next year. Still, these developments could also be dangerous for yearly budget credibility. First, carry-over facilities make it harder to exactly plan expenditures for the fiscal year on an aggregate level. Second, high levels of carry-over can weaken the incentive for solid budget planning at the line ministry level.

Continue reading "New Budgetary Reforms in Austria: An Emphasis on Flexibility, Performance, and Gender" »

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" »

September 25, 2012

Views from the Field No. 1 – AFRITAC South

Posted by Vijay Ramachandran and Jean-Luc Helis

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 11, 2012

Timing is Everything: Why Delays in Budget Approval are Undermining Fiscal Policy in Africa…And What Can Be Done About It

Posted by Camille Karamaga

A number of serious public financial management (PFM) problems in Africa can be traced back to a single, simple issue – late submission to and approval of the budget by the legislature. Limited legislative scrutiny of fiscal and budgetary policies undermines transparency and accountability in resource allocation and utilization which form the cornerstone of a good PFM system. Failure to provide the legislature with adequate time to scrutinize the budget reduces their ability to undertake critical analysis of fiscal policies and service delivery objectives. Late approval of the budget also prevents government entities from initiating procurement processes at the start of the financial year based on the approved budget, especially where special warrants or pro forma rules rather than systematic cash plans prepared by spending agencies are used to release funds.

The need to provide adequate time for parliament to scrutinize the budget and for line ministries to plan for the year ahead is recognized in both international standards and national laws. International experience recommends that the annual budget estimates be tabled in the legislature at least three months before the beginning of the new financial year in order to allow meaningful scrutiny. Guidelines on good practice in this area are provided in documents such as the IMF’s Code of Fiscal Transparency, the OECD’s Guidelines on Transparency, and the PEFA Performance Measurement Framework.

Continue reading "Timing is Everything: Why Delays in Budget Approval are Undermining Fiscal Policy in Africa…And What Can Be Done About It" »

September 06, 2012

Has Global PFM Improved in the Last Decade?

Posted by Sanjay Vani

It is relatively easy to spot the trajectory of Public Financial Management (PFM) progress in any given country but how do we get a sense of the global trend during the last decade? A very useful and reliable source of information is provided by the World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA)[1] database. CPIA data offers a more complete source of comparative information than Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessments, data on which began to be collected only in 2005. 

The CPIA exercise is conducted annually for all the Bank’s borrowing countries. It has evolved into a set of criteria which are grouped in four clusters: (a) economic management; (b) structural policies; (c) policies for social inclusion and equity; and (d) public sector management and institutions. Ratings for each of the criteria focus on the quality of each country’s current policies and institutions. CPIA is the only measurement tool that provides an annual numerical rating for the quality of PFM and other aspects. The annual CPIA exercise is informed by various available diagnostics including PEFA assessments and, as such, provides a good basis for analyzing trends in PFM.

Continue reading "Has Global PFM Improved in the Last Decade?" »

August 28, 2012

PEFA Partners Seeking Comments on Exposure Draft of “Guidance Note on Sequencing PFM Reforms”

Posted by the PEFA Secretariat

Readers familiar with the PEFA Performance Measurement Framework will be aware that the main purpose of an assessment report is to provide the authorities with a high-level overview of the performance of the PFM system at a point in time. In many cases, this overview—which can be expected to highlight strengths and weaknesses found in the system—becomes the cornerstone of a dialogue with development partners about reform priorities.

But when a PFM system is generally weak, what should the priorities be? Where should reforms focus? Many practitioners would answer these questions by agreeing with the proposition put forward many years ago (and recently reiterated) by Allen Schick: “with the basics”. But what are “the basics”, and which of them should be addressed first?

A draft “Guidance Note on Sequencing PFM Reforms” has been developed by Jack Diamond, former IMF Fiscal Affairs Department Division Chief on behalf of the IMF and the European Commission, under the auspices of the PEFA Program, following an extensive period of research and debate around these issues between the PEFA Partners.  

Continue reading "PEFA Partners Seeking Comments on Exposure Draft of “Guidance Note on Sequencing PFM Reforms”" »

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 14, 2012

Good PFM Practices in a Period of Global Adjustment: ICGFM Issues Call for Speakers at its Upcoming Conferences

Posted by David Nummy, ICGFM Vice-President for Programs

Five years after the beginnings of the global financial crisis, economic adjustments continue to take place throughout the world. ICGFM will explore both the proactive PFM measures that have taken place as well as the responses that have been undertaken to manage through this period of adjustment. This overall theme will frame the focus of both of its upcoming international conferences.  

The International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management (ICGFM) has issued a call for speakers, panels, and presentations that address good practices in public financial management. As this topic will cover both of its upcoming conferences, proposals are solicited for both the winter conference in Washington, DC from December 10-12, 2012, and the 27th Annual International Conference in Miami from May 19-24, 2013.

Continue reading "Good PFM Practices in a Period of Global Adjustment: ICGFM Issues Call for Speakers at its Upcoming Conferences" »

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!" »

August 07, 2012

New PFM Newsletter in Khmer

Posted by Chita Marzan

The IMF Technical Note and Manual on Modernizing Cash Management has recently been translated into Khmer (attached below), and more such translations are now underway. An article on this technical note and manual (TNM) was featured in the first PFM Newsletter in Cambodia (also below) which was launched in May 2012. This newsletter is a joint effort of Mr. Suhas Joshi, PFM Regional Advisor for Southeast Asia of the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD), and Mr. Seng Sreng, Director of the Economics and Finance Institute (EFI) of Cambodia. Another article focused on gender-budgeting describing the practices in Pacific Island countries.

The PFM Newsletter evolved from an idea to set up a knowledge exchange group which would connect all the participants of joint IMF/EFI lectures on PFM by email and also through a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter is expected to cover developments in the field of PFM and to bring to the recipients improvements in this field from across the world and in Cambodia itself. The newsletter is to be sent out every quarter jointly with the EFI and also aims to establish a forum for PFM practitioners in Cambodia to exchange ideas and knowledge, and to widen the dissemination of available materials that are relevant for the improvement of PFM in the country. Improving cash management is one of the key objectives of the PFM Reform Program (PFMRP) of the Royal Government of Cambodia. The newsletter is available both in Khmer and in English so that country officials have greater access to international developments in the PFM area.

Continue reading "New PFM Newsletter in Khmer" »

July 27, 2012

Basics First is Best Practice!

Posted by Allen Schick

This note compares two strategies for modernizing public sector management (PSM) in countries that have large technical deficits in policymaking, allocating public resources, delivering public services, and monitoring results. One strategy, often favored by development specialists, is to attempt to rapidly  modernize public management by introducing the advanced practices of highly-developed countries. The argument for this "leapfrogging" strategy rests on the expectation that low-income countries  can avoid the trial and error process that advanced countries have experienced and accelerate straight to adopting best practices.

The counter argument is that countries which lack basic managerial capacity cannot make effective use of best practices. It behooves them, therefore, to forego, state-of-the art reforms and concentrate instead on capacity-building measures, such as developing basic accounting and budgeting systems. Rather than retard development, a "basics first" strategy prepares the ground for more sophisticated PSM systems. For example, it will likely be premature to introduce the accrual basis in a county that lacks reliable cash-based financial reports, or to extend the time horizon of budgeting to the medium-term in a country that has unstable annual budgets.

Continue reading "Basics First is Best Practice!" »

July 04, 2012

Budget Reform: Borrowing a Leaf from the Accounting Profession’s Book

Posted by Florence Kuteesa

 Since the 19th century, there has been a sustained effort to develop and disseminate professional standards and qualifications in accounting. In stark contrast, there are currently no internationally accepted standards for budget preparation. Could this absence of a professional foundation for budget preparation  help explain the short lifespan of many reforms that have failed to take root in budget departments and bear fruit in the form of more credible and predictable budgets, especially in low income countries (LICs)? Is it time for the budget reformers to borrow a leaf from the accounting profession’s book?

It is of concern that national budget preparation reforms in many LICs have failed to deliver intended objectives. Budget practices continue to be based on a patchwork of traditions and procedures that have evolved slowly. There are marked disparities between the principles and practices of budgeting within countries, as well as large variations across countries. New ideas and techniques of planning and budgeting are tried but, all too frequently, are abandoned or overtaken by some other initiative making it even more difficult to build strong foundation for budgeting. Short-lived budget reforms have lead to poor outcomes and dissatisfaction among staff. The continuous search for more appropriate budgeting structures and procedures is demonstrated by recent debates among the senior budget officers’ networks, in Asia, Middle East and North Africa, and Africa.

Continue reading "Budget Reform: Borrowing a Leaf from the Accounting Profession’s Book" »

July 02, 2012

Can Policymakers Stem Rising Income Inequality?

Posted by David Coady and Sanjeev Gupta and previously published on iMFdirect

The issue of rising income inequality is now at the forefront of public debate. There is growing concern as to the economic and social consequences of the steady, and often sharp, increase in the share of income captured by higher income groups.

While much of the discussion focuses on the factors driving the rise in inequality—including globalization, labor market reforms, and technological changes that favor higher-skilled workers—a more pressing issue is what can be done about it.

In our recent study we find that public spending and taxation policies have had, and are likely to continue to have, a crucial impact on income inequality in both advanced and developing economies.

In advanced economies, this is especially important given that the ongoing fiscal adjustment needs to be continued for many years to reduce public debt to sustainable levels. But it is equally important in developing economies where inequality is relatively high.

Continue reading "Can Policymakers Stem Rising Income Inequality?" »

June 27, 2012

Burundi – L’expérience positive du nouveau dispositif de gestion des ressources extérieures

Posté par Jean Pierre Nguenang[1]

A la faveur de la rénovation récente du cadre juridique des finances publiques (FP), le pays a mis en place un nouveau dispositif de gestion des ressources extérieures, le budget d’affectation spéciale (BAS). S’inscrivant dans le cadre de la déclaration de Paris 2005 sur l’efficacité de l’aide, ce dispositif concilie l’utilisation des nouvelles procédures nationales, tant en budgétisation qu’en exécution, avec les besoins des bailleurs. Avec la mise en place d’un fonds commun de l’éducation (FCE) doté de financements de certains bailleurs de fond pour les budgets 2011 et 2012, une première expérience du BAS s’avère positive. Cette mise en œuvre du premier BAS préfigure l’introduction progressive pour le budget général des dispositions de modernisation adoptées dans le cadre rénové des FP.

Une budgétisation du BAS qui améliore l’exhaustivité et la transparence du budget de l’Etat

Les fonds des bailleurs accordés à l’Etat, à l’exception des appuis budgétaires directs, sont intégrés si les bailleurs le souhaitent en recettes et en dépenses au budget général de l’Etat. Une annexe aux lois de finances donne le détail de l’origine et de l’emploi de ces fonds. Toutefois, un BAS peut être créé par groupes de projet ou groupes de programmes d’investissement, réunissant les financements d’un ou de plusieurs bailleurs de fonds. Rattaché au ministère sectoriel principalement responsable de sa mise en œuvre, le BAS peut être abondé par un crédit budgétaire au titre de la contrepartie nationale.

Continue reading "Burundi – L’expérience positive du nouveau dispositif de gestion des ressources extérieures" »

Burundi – Success with the New Mechanism for Managing External Resources

Posted by Jean Pierre Nguenang[1]

As part of the recent reform of the legal framework governing public finances, Burundi has introduced a new mechanism for managing external resources, a special earmarks budget (BAS). This mechanism, which is in line with the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, balances the use of the national procedures, both in budgeting and execution, with the needs of donors. The initial experience with a BAS - in the form of the establishment of an Education Funding Pool (FCE) financed by certain donors for the 2011 and 2012 budgets – has been encouraging and marks the first step in the gradual introduction for the general budget of the modernization measures included in the updated public finance framework.

Inclusion of the BAS in the budget improves the coverage and transparency of the government budget

The funds granted by donors to the government, with the exception of direct budgetary assistance, are included under revenue and expenditure in the general budget of the government if the donors so wish. An annex to the budget law provides a breakdown of the origin and use of the funds. However, a BAS may be created for a group of projects or group of investment programs, combining the financing from one or more donors. The BAS may be supplemented by a budgetary allocation, which constitutes the national counterpart. The BAS comes under the sectoral ministry, which has primary responsibility for its implementation.

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June 25, 2012

Healthcare reform: Difficult but not impossible

Posted by Benedict Clements, David Coady, and Sanjeev Gupta. Originally published on

It is a daunting reality for many advanced economies that even if they manage to cut public spending today, they will continue to have huge liabilities as their populations age. This column argues that healthcare reform, no matter how politically unpalatable, will have to be a part of countries’ financial adjustment plans.

With public debt ratios soaring to levels unprecedented since the Second World War, fiscal adjustments are already underway and more will need to be done in many advanced economies (Buti and Pench 2012, Cottarelli 2012). In these economies, for example, an adjustment of an astonishing eight percentage points of GDP will be required, on average, between 2011 and 2020, and then sustained for a decade beyond that, to bring debt ratios to 60% of GDP (IMF 2012). Even this figure understates the daunting task ahead, as it does not take into account the fiscal pressures emanating from age-related spending, including health, in these countries (Standard & Poor's 2012; Gruber 2012). Healthcare reform, no matter how politically unpalatable, will have to be a part of countries’ fiscal adjustment strategies. In emerging economies, healthcare reform is equally crucial, given continued lags in health indicators and the need to expand health spending at a gradual pace to maintain fiscal discipline. These countries also have fiscal adjustment needs, but they are significantly lower than advanced economies.

In the face of these Herculean challenges, there nevertheless are reform options to tame the growth of healthcare spending in advanced economies in a way so as to minimise any potential adverse effects on the poor. In emerging economies, the challenge is to expand coverage in a fiscally sustainable manner. In our book, The Economics of Public Health Care Reform in Advanced and Emerging Economies, we describe the present and coming fiscal burden from healthcare but also the lessons in healthcare reform that can be learned from the successes of a number of countries.

Continue reading "Healthcare reform: Difficult but not impossible" »

June 01, 2012

Les budgets nationaux au service du développement et de la réduction de la pauvreté

Posté par Mohamed Moindze

Se voulant résolument pragmatique et orienté vers les nouvelles finances publiques, l’ouvrage «Les budgets nationaux au service du développement et de la réduction de la pauvreté »  édité, en janvier 2012, est centré sur la budgétisation des politiques de développement et de réduction de la pauvreté dans les pays en développement de tradition francophone.

L’ouvrage se veut également exhaustif en proposant une vision d’ensemble des questions relatives à l’élaboration des budgets nationaux basés sur les politiques publiques. Il est composé de deux parties. La première traite des stratégies globales et sectorielles dans leurs différents aspects de diagnostic, d’élaboration, de costing et de suivi en se basant sur les stratégies de croissance et  de réduction de la pauvreté développées par les pays en développant.

Continue reading "Les budgets nationaux au service du développement et de la réduction de la pauvreté" »

National Budgets that Meet the Needs of Development and Poverty Reduction

Posted by Mohamed Moindze

With its resolutely pragmatic focus on the latest developments in public finance, Les budgets nationaux au service du développement et de la réduction de la pauvreté [National budgets that meet the needs of development and poverty reduction] (published in January 2012) addresses the budgeting of development and poverty-reduction policies in developing Francophone countries.

This publication also provides a comprehensive overview of issues relevant to preparing national budgets based on public policies. The text comes in two parts. The first part deals with the various aspects of global and sectoral strategies (diagnostic assessment, preparation, costing, and monitoring), predicated on the growth and poverty-reduction strategies formulated by developing countries.

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May 30, 2012

What Accounting Standards for Governments of the Global South?

Posted by Andy Wynne,

Timely, clear and open annual financial statements play an essential role in the accountability of governments to parliament and their citizens. However, there are no widely adopted international standards that reflect existing good practice. Virtually all developing countries currently use the modified cash basis. But there is no internationally accepted guidance that details the standards and good practices which should be adopted for this approach.

The only available international standard is the Cash Basis International Public Sector Accounting Standard (IPSAS). This was first issued in January 2003, but although it has been widely promoted by the donor community, PEFA and IFAC, not a single government in the world has actually been able to adopt this standard. This is not from want of trying, many governments have looked at the standard, but recognised that it is not practical to implement its key requirements. It is estimated, for example, that at least 31 governments in Africa have tried to adopt this standard. One international consultant recently estimated that he had worked in around 30 countries trying to adopt the standard, but that its key requirements had not proved practical.

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May 18, 2012

Program Budgeting Is on the Reform Agenda Across Europe and Central Asia

Posted by Deanna Aubrey, PEMPAL PFM Adviser

Ministries of Finance from 18 Europe and Central Asia (ECA) countries met from March 27-29, 2012 at Lake Bohinj, in Slovenia, [1] to exchange experiences in program budgeting. The meeting was attended by 57 members of the Budget Community of Practice (BCOP) of the Public Expenditure Management Peer Assisted Learning (PEMPAL) network.[2] Presentations were delivered by the World Bank, IMF, and GIZ with reforms showcased from guest speakers from France, Australia, Slovenia, and Poland.

The World Bank clarified the terminology given the wide variety of terms in use (e.g., program budgeting, performance budgeting, results-based budgeting). Program budgeting applies to cases where expenditure is classified in the budget by objectives (outcomes and outputs) rather than solely by economic categories (i.e., inputs such as salaries) and organizational category. Performance budgeting (or performance-informed budgeting) refers to a wider set of initiatives intended to strengthen the links between the funds provided and the results achieved through ensuring performance information is used in resource allocation decision making. Program and performance budgeting reforms should, therefore, provide information in a way that informs choices about spending alternatives and should improve transparency and accountability of government.[3]

Continue reading "Program Budgeting Is on the Reform Agenda Across Europe and Central Asia" »

May 17, 2012

New Opportunity to Finance PEFA-related Research Through SAFE Grants

Posted by the PEFA Secretariat

The PEFA Secretariat is pleased to inform that applications are invited for grants to support eligible public financial management reform projects in countries that are intended beneficiaries under the SAFE Trust Fund. The deadline for proposals is 31 July 2012.

The SAFE trust fund group seeks to improve the status of PFM across countries in the Europe and Central Asia region and includes two pools of funds to provide support for activities led by governments under 3 pillars: 1) to assess public financial management (PFM) performance; 2) to identify and implement actions to achieve improvements in public financial management; and 3) to share knowledge and good practices. The selection criteria for SAFE funded projects emphasize the links to the PEFA performance measurement framework as a diagnostic and analytical tool for PFM reform.

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May 14, 2012

New Zealand to Legislate an Expenditure Rule

Posted by Ian Lienert

Euro-zone countries are being admonished by the EU to strengthen their fiscal frameworks, including by introducing a legislated budget balance rule in national legislation. On the other side of the globe, the New Zealand Government has announced that its fiscal framework will be strengthened, by introducing a spending fiscal rule in amended legislation. The similarity of the EU and New Zealand actions is striking, given the large differences in fiscal consolidation needs. For example, Euro area gross general government debt was nearly 90 percent of GDP in 2011, in contrast to New Zealand’s relatively low ratio of 44 percent. [1]

The New Zealand Government’s announcement was preceded by considerable analysis and strong criticism by some commentators. The Government’s advisor, the Treasury (New Zealand’s “ministry of finance”), while supporting self-imposed limits on new spending as a means of controlling growth in expenses, does not support a legislatively embedded formula-based spending limit.[2] However, because of the Government’s agreement with a minor political party there is a proposal to amend the Public Finance Act, which, if enacted, would make the new fiscal rule permanent, unless a future government initiates its repeal.

Continue reading "New Zealand to Legislate an Expenditure Rule" »

May 04, 2012

Budgetary Reforms in South Asia

Extracts from a Project Report by Author on ‘Budgetary Reforms in South Asia’ Sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research

Posted by Udaya Pant


As a result of the Making Budget Work (MBW) and Making Budget and Air Work (MBAW) projects, budgets are now prepared on time and increasingly reflect the priorities of the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and the provincial needs. Budget officers from the project assist the line ministries in formulating and submitting the budget proposals on time and in accordance with national and ministerial policies and priorities.

Program and provincial budgeting were introduced in Afghanistan from fiscal year 2007. Progress on these has been slow, yet steady. The provincial budgeting pilot was to cover all 34 provinces by 2011. The program budgeting pilot covered 17 ministries by 2011. Each Ministry has formed a Program Budget Implementation Team, and training sessions on program budgeting have been delivered to all of these teams. The program and provincial budgeting pilots have improved budget formulation processes, increased transparency in government expenditures and ensured the foundation for increased inclusion of the provinces in the national budget formulation and implementation process, increasing equity in the distribution of resources across the country.

Continue reading "Budgetary Reforms in South Asia" »

April 20, 2012

Georgian State Treasury Hosts Workshop on Treasury and External Financing Reforms

Posted by Ion Chicu, World Bank, and David Tsekvava, Deputy Head of State Treasury, Ministry of Finance, Georgia 

A three-day PEMPAL [1] Treasury Community of Practice (TCOP) workshop was held in Tbilisi, Georgia on February 27-29, 2012 on public finance reform progress related to Treasury systems and external financing.  Fifty participants from ten countries attended (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Ukraine).  Experts from the World Bank provided information on regional and international developments and technical support to the discussions.  The meeting was hosted by the State Treasury of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia who proved to be warm and wonderful hosts.

The meeting followed from an earlier meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan on September 27-29, 2011 whereby more than 80 participants from 17 countries from the Bank’s Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region met to discuss progress in implementing integrated financial management information systems across the region. Many TCOP member countries are the recipients of external financing in various forms and a need was identified for a smaller group meeting to address the issues associated with the effective management of external financing.  The practical problems faced in the process of integrating external financing into national budget systems are widely known. In many cases the challenges are related to the fiduciary requirements of the donor organizations. National systems do not always fully fit those requirements, which leads to the use of parallel mechanisms, such as those often established to implement donor-funded investment projects.  Within the framework of public financial management (PFM) reforms, and consistent with the principles espoused by the Paris Declaration of Aid Effectiveness, PEMPAL member countries have been pursuing the objective of integrating external financing into all stages of the budget process. 

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