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October 25, 2010

Central AFRITAC (AFC) Launches the Senior Budget Officers' Forum

Posted by Abdoulahi Mfombouot, Resident Adviser on Public Expenditure Management, Central AFRITAC

As the first initiative of this type in the subregion, the Forum of Senior Budget Officers of Central AFRITAC member States held its first meeting in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, on September 27-30, 2010.

The event brought together two delegates from the top-level budgetary authorities in each AFC member country, to exchange theories and practices. The representative of the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Congo set the tone in his opening address, by inviting participants to use the meeting to lay the foundations for ongoing, dynamic, and mutually beneficial budgetary cooperation. He also highlighted the need for a frank exchange on the successes achieved and difficulties encountered.

Several international experts gave presentations on a variety of subjects, such as the “budgetary task”, multiyear budgeting, deconcentration, and budgetary nomenclature—all of which are key concerns of the States in the subregion which have embarked on a major drive to modernize their public finances, with Central AFRITAC support. The excellent quality of these presentations stimulated animated and fruitful exchanges on national experiences, which underlined the urgent need to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in these areas.

Although the original initiative came from Central AFRITAC, it was the country delegates themselves who defined the agenda and the shape of this forum, which has now been made permanent and will meet once a year, with the AFC serving as technical secretariat. Before closing their discussions, delegates unanimously chose the host country to hold the interim presidency.

In a final workshop, held without the presence of experts and AFC leaders, delegates adopted the “Brazzaville Declaration,” formalizing their decision to implement a network of Senior Budget Officers. The declaration was solemnly read out at the closing ceremony in the presence of officials from the Republic of Congo, the Resident Representative of the IMF, the Central AFRITAC Coordinator, and national media.

The forum’s founding texts could be officially adopted at the end of the CEMAC workshop to be held in Douala, Cameroon, in the second half of February 2011. After that, the second meeting of the forum can be convened within 12 months, in a country and on a topic to be chosen by members.

This initiative, which was widely covered by local media and very well hosted by the Republic of Congo, will undoubtedly be a milestone in strengthening regional integration among Central African States.

Download Brazzaville Declaration

Download Statutes of the Forum

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Its good to know that such initatives are being taken in other places also. In the Pacific, the Pacific Islands Financial Managers Association (PIFMA) has recently held its fifth annual meeting at Port Vila. PIFMA is motivated by a similar idea that top level finance managers in the region meet periodically to exchange ideas. PIFMA meets at the level of Finance Secretaries and has been graced by the attendance of several Finannce Ministers in it's recent meetings.
Glad to see similar efforts in other places too.

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