How Digitalization of PFM can Improve Service Delivery

Nov 8
By Sandeep Saxena, Delphine Moretti, and Raju Sharan[1]

Digitalization of public financial management (PFM) has received increased attention around the world. Governments are looking to leverage technological innovations to transform the delivery of public services. The COVID-19 pandemic provided further motivation to accelerate the pace of digitalization. All around the globe, several innovative tools and modes of service delivery have emerged within the past year, and many more are in progress. These increased ambitions, however, need to be matched with a coherent strategic framework to enable countries to prioritize investments in digitalization and to optimize benefits.

Recognizing the benefits of sharing experiences and peer learning, the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department organized a regional seminar on “Digitalization of Public Financial Management for Improved Service Delivery”—the first of its kind on this topic for South and South East Asian countries. Over 125 participants from 14 Asian countries attended the seminar which took place between September 20-24, 2021. The seminar was organized in collaboration with the Fund’s South Asia Training and Technical Assistance Center (SARTTAC) and Capacity Development office in Thailand (CDOT), it had three overarching objectives:

  1. Take stock of the progress achieved by South and Southeast Asian countries in the digitalization of their PFM systems.
  2. Explore the potential offered by emerging technologies elsewhere and identify strategic issues and choices, as countries move further in their digitalization efforts.
  3. Sensitize participants to results achieved – i.e., what digitalization of PFM can concretely achieve.

Each day of the seminar was devoted to a specific subtheme, focusing on one aspect of the issue, and the final day tied the threads together and provide key messages on strengthening the link between a digital PFM and service delivery by governments to ensure better spending outcomes. The speakers included senior policymakers at national and subnational levels, subject experts from international institutions, such as the OECD, World Bank and the IMF, industry experts, and practitioners from several advanced and developing countries.

The seminar brought together real-world experiences, discussed methods to deal with challenges of digitalization and informed participants of the potential for future advancements by leveraging existing and emerging technologies. It reinforced the idea that digitalization is not just a matter of adopting new technology, but requires a transformation of an organization’s processes, its governance structure, data management, and human resources skills.


[1] Sandeep Saxena is a Senior Economist in the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department. Delphine Moretti and Raju Sharan are IMF’s Regional PFM Advisors for South East and South Asia respectively.

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