IMF Fiscal Affairs E-Newsletter, December 2011



December 2011

IMF Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD)

  Useful Links

FAD at a Glance

Contacts in FAD

Previous newsletter

  Recent Blogs

Fiscal Glass is Half Full: Some Reasons for Optimism

When Reality Doesn't Bite—Misconceptions about the IMF and Social Spending

PFM Blog

  Coming Soon

January 2012 Fiscal Monitor Update: The next quarterly Fiscal Monitor Update will have a focus on approaches to address the euro area crisis, impact of weaker growth on public finances, and policies for 2012.

  Publication Updates

  IMF Working Papers

·         Efficiency-Adjusted Public Capital and Growth

·         Spatial Spillovers in Emerging Market Spreads

·         Decentralizing Spending More than Revenue: Does It Hurt Fiscal Performance?

·         Inflation Dynamics in the CEMAC Region

·         The Puzzle of Persistently Negative Interest
Rate-Growth Differentials: Financial Repression
or Income Catch-Up?

·         Assessing the Variability of Tax Elasticities in Lithuania

·         Evaluating Designs for a Fiscal Rule in Bulgaria


  External Publications

·         Firm Productivity and Investment Climate in Developing Countries: How Does Middle East and North Africa Manufacturing Perform?

·         Foreign Ownership, Sales to Multinationals, and Firm Efficiency: The Case of Brazil, Morocco, Pakistan, South Africa, and Vietnam

·         On the Drivers of FDI and Portfolio Investment: A Simultaneous Equations Approach


  Finance & Development

·         Are the Critics Right?

  Technical Notes
  and Manuals

·         Chart of Accounts: A Critical Element of the Public Financial Management Framework

·         Treasury Single Account: An Essential Tool for Government Cash Management

·         Operational Risk Management and Business Continuity Planning for Modern State Treasuries



Controlling Public Spending in Advanced Economies (Rome, November 14–15)

The Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance and FAD organized a meeting of international experts, including policy makers from over 20 advanced economies, leading academics, and international organizations. The conference deliberated on the challenges confronting advanced economies in controlling spending pressures and strengthening budget institutions. Discussions covered expenditure policy reforms, budget institutions, fiscal consolidation initiatives, and local government spending.

 "Challenges of Budgetary and Financial Crisis in Europe" presentation by Carlo Cottarelli at the London School of Economics (November 18)

The presentation focused on the current risks for the public finances in advanced economies and attendant policy implications. The medium-term fiscal consolidation needs in advanced economies are daunting and policies should address both the revenue and spending sides of the budget—encompassing tax, pension, health, and growth-oriented structural reforms.

Dec11p14th Biennial International Tax Dialogue (ITD) Conference (New Delhi, December 7–9)

The conference, of which FAD was a lead organizer, was hosted by the Ministry of Finance of India. The ITD conference—organized every two years—focused this time on the topic of "Tax and Inequality." The conference explored how taxation can be part of the solution to growing inequalities in income and wealth. It was attended by over 400 participants, including Ministers of Finance and senior government representatives of over 80 countries, academics, and regional and international organizations. The opening remarks were delivered by India's Minister of Finance Pranab Mukherjee, China's Vice-Minister of Finance Wang Jun, and IMF Deputy Managing Director Min Zhu.

FAD in The News

The New Delhi ITD conference on “Tax and Inequality” was picked up by numerous news and media organizations, including Dow Jones International News,  The Financial, India Blooms News Service, The Hindu,  Business Standard, and Asia Pulse.


Bloomberg broadcast an interview with FAD Director Carlo Cottarelli on U.S. fiscal policy and the European sovereign-debt crisis.


Presentations by Carlo Cottarelli at the London School of Economics (IMF Cottarelli: US, Japan Need Urgent Fiscal Plans, Europe Must Reform To Grow) and the University of Valencia, Spain (Expansion, Noticias) were picked up by news agencies and local media.


FAD Deputy Director Michael Keen participated in a round table on the flat tax, broadcast in the news program “To the Point” (KCRW, National Public Radio, U.S.).



African Fiscal Forum on Policy Challenges Facing Sub-Saharan Africa (Cape Town, November 9-10)

Together with the South African National Treasury, FAD organized the first Fiscal Forum that focused on Africa. Participants shared their experiences of dealing with recent food and fuel price shocks and the growth slowdown in 2009. The forum was opened by the South African Deputy Minister of Finance Mr. Nhlanhla Nene, and attended by 50 senior officials from sub-Saharan Africa, academics, and international institutions.

Dec11p2Tokyo Conference on Public Health Care Reform in Asia (October 3)

The event, jointly organized by FAD and the IMF Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (OAP), brought together 60 government officials, academics, and health experts from 11 Asian countries. The discussion focused on ways to contain the growth of health spending in advanced countries—including through the use of budget caps, enhanced reliance on competition among providers and insurance companies, and an effective use of analysis for selecting health interventions. For emerging market countries, challenges include the need to provide universal coverage with a fiscally sustainable package of services. Several Asian countries have successfully reformed their health care system (e.g. Japan, Thailand) and their experiences provided important insights.IMF Deputy Managing Director Min Zhu opened the conference and chaired the concluding policy panel discussion.

Dec11p3FAD Revenue Administration Expands Regional Technical Assistance Dialogue

FAD organized a number of regional conferences to engage senior tax administrators in discussions of developments and revenue administration developments and reform strategies. In collaboration with the Center of Excellence in Finance, it organized a Conference on Tax Administration in South East Europe (Ljubljana, October 5-7) of the heads and senior officials of regional tax agencies, the European Union, and the Intra-European Organization of Tax Administrations (IOTA). The conference provided an opportunity to exchange views on the implications of the global financial crisis for tax administration and ongoing reforms. Another workshop on Revenue Administration Reform Priorities and Effective Implementation in the Middle East (Kuwait City, October 16-20) was jointly organized with the recently established IMF-Middle East Center for Economics and Finance. It was attended by Representatives from 13 countries across the Gulf States, the Middle East and North Africa. Finally, a workshop for eleven Caribbean countries on Strategic Management(Montego Bay, October 20-26) was organized by FAD and the World Bank. The event also marked the launch of the SEMCAR (Supporting Economic Management in the Caribbean) tax administration work program financed by CIDA (Canada).

Dec11p42011 Winter Conference of the International Consortium on Government Financial Management (ICGFM)

During December 5-7, 120 members of the ICGFM met at the Fund to discuss future key components of Public Financial Management (PFM) systems. Attendance covered a broad array of financial management practitioners from governments, universities, the private sector, and professional associations. The conference included a preview of FAD's forthcoming book "The Emerging Architecture of Public Financial Management in the 21st Century."

Workshop on Automatic Fuel Pricing Mechanisms in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

The WAEMU commission and FAD organized a workshop during August 29–31 focusing on fiscal implications of regional fuel pricing policies. It highlighted the fiscal costs of current approaches to fuel pricing, potential gains from automatic pricing mechanisms, and the need to implement the WAEMU directive on fuel tax harmonization.

Fiscal Monitor Data Visualization Tool

The Fiscal Monitor’s underlying data are now publicly available with a user-friendly data visualization tool.

Tax Reform in the U.K. and the U.S.: Lessons from the Mirrlees Review (Washington, November 22)

FAD organized a presentation of the Mirrlees Review of the UK tax system by its lead authors. The review contains innovative tax policy recommendations that are relevant to many countries.

Technical Notes

A New Tool to Assess Underlying Fiscal Positions

A new website provides information on the adjustment of fiscal balances for output cycles and other effects (e.g., commodity, housing, and stock prices, and output composition)—a step in assessing fiscal sustainability. It includes an excel tool based on a technical note by F. Bornhorst and others, and provides an opportunity for feedback from users.

Technical Assistance Activities

During September–December 2011, FAD provided 75 technical assistance missions to IMF member countries and multi-country organizations.

Career Opportunities

FAD seeks talented and dedicated professionals with a background in different areas of public finance, to work on macro-fiscal policy issues and to provide technical assistance advice to IMF member countries on public financial management, tax policy reform, revenue administration, and different expenditure policy issues. Vacancies in FAD for staff and long-term expert positions are posted on FAD also seeks experts who are interested in occasional short-term (2–3 week) assignments; interested candidates may send their CVs to