The Capabilities of Finance Ministries

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Posted by Richard Allen

How do finance ministries go about performing their tasks, what do they look like as organizations, and does it matter how they are organized? What makes a finance ministry capable of doing its job?

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has published a report[2] investigating the capabilities of finance ministries, based on case studies of Germany, Mexico, Nepal, Uganda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. On June 6, 2016, Her Majesty’s Treasury (the U.K’s finance ministry) and the ODI organized a High-Level Roundtable to discuss the findings of the report. Opening remarks were made by the Rt Hon Greg Hands, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and were followed by a presentation of ODI’s report, remarks by H.E. Do Hoang Anh Tuan, Vice Minister of Finance of Vietnam, and Edmund Koroma, Financial Secretary of Sierra Leone, and a general discussion. Participants in the Roundtable included representatives of the Treasury, ODI, the IMF, think tanks, consultancy firms, academia  as well as specialist media. In the afternoon, a workshop was held to discuss the ODI’s report with a wider audience of experts and practitioners.

Participants at the two meetings were asked to offer their views on the following questions:

  1. Are there organizational models, institutions, and processes that have merit across many different countries, such as merging separate ministries of finance, economics and planning?
  2. What can finance ministries learn from the experience of other countries, and what not?
  3. How can finance ministries in advanced countries best assist their counterparts in developing countries and emerging markets?

Participants in the two events offered a wide range of views on these questions. Among the ideas discussed were the following:

[1] Richard Allen is a Visiting Scholar and Public Financial Management Expert with the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF.

[2] Philipp Krause, Sierd Hadley, Shakira Mustapha, and Bryn Welham. June 2016. The Capabilities of Finance Ministries. London: Overseas Development Institute.

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