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March 2013

March 25, 2013

Is Europe Ready for EPSAS?

Posted by Franck Bessette[1]

The sovereign debt crisis has underlined the need for governments of the European Union (EU) to clearly demonstrate their financial stability and for more rigorous and more transparent reporting of fiscal data. The EU promotes a system of harmonized accruals-based accounting standards for all entities of the government sector. IPSAS is currently the only internationally recognized set of standards. It is founded on the international financial reporting standards (IFRS), widely applied by the private sector, and at present comprises 32 accrual-based accounting standards, plus one cash-based standard. A recent report by the European Commission assesses the suitability of IPSAS for the Member States.  

The report notes that 15 out of 27 EU Member States already make some link to IPSAS. Of these countries, nine have national standards based on or in line with IPSAS, five make some references to it, and one country uses IPSAS in accounting at the local government level. However, despite recognition of the high value of IPSAS, no Member State has implemented the standards in full. Fully harmonized accrual-based public-sector accounting would provide a firmer basis for evaluating the financial position and performance of government activities at all levels.

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March 22, 2013

Public Financial Management and Its Emerging Architecture

Public financial management (PFM)—the fine art of budgeting, spending, and managing public monies—has seen an influx of innovations and reforms over the last two decades.

This book poses critical questions about these reforms, which include fiscal rules, fiscal responsibility legislation, medium-term budget frameworks, fiscal councils, performance budgeting, and accrual accounting. The authors evaluate what these reforms have accomplished and the issues and challenges that have been encountered, including those from the global financial and economic crisis. It draws lessons to help guide reformers in their pursuit of the next generation of PFM reforms. Public Financial Management and Its Emerging Architecture is available in print and e-book formats.

This event is open to the public, and those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP by sending an e-mail to FADM2AST@imf.org with the following details: full name, affiliation or employer name, and daytime phone number. Please RSVP by 3:00 p.m. on April 10. IMF and World Bank personnel are also welcome, and they need only their ID cards to enter.

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March 21, 2013

Offre d'emploi: Conseiller résident en Gestion des finances publiques (basé en Côte d’Ivoire)


Le Département des finances publiques (FAD) du FMI recherche un(e)  expert(e)  hautement qualifié pour occuper un poste de Conseiller résident en gestion des finances publiques (GFP) au sein du Centre régional d’assistance technique pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest (AFRITAC de l’Ouest) créé en 2003 et basé à Abidjan, en Côte d’Ivoire. La durée du contrat proposé est d’un an, renouvelable sous réserve de satisfaire aux performances attendues.


Le Conseiller apportera, dans plusieurs domaines de la GFP, une assistance technique (AT) aux dix (10) pays que couvre l’AFRITAC de l’Ouest, à savoir le Bénin, le Burkina Faso, la Côte d’Ivoire, la Guinée, la Guinée-Bissau, le Mali, la Mauritanie, le Niger, le Sénégal et le Togo. Le programme de travail du Conseiller couvrira l’ensemble des aspects de la GFP : cadre légal et règlementaire, budget, contrôle et audit financiers – avec une attention particulière sur l’exécution du budget (y inclus contrôle des dépenses, opérations du trésor, gestion de trésorerie, comptabilité, reporting budgétaire et comptable, et systèmes d’information financière),.

Le Conseiller sera placé(e) sous l’autorité du Coordonnateur de l’AFRITAC de l’Ouest pour les aspects généraux de ses activités et il/elle relèvera du Département de finances publiques du FMI à Washington D.C. pour les questions particulières liées à son domaine d’expertise. Il est attendu de lui/elle une grande mobilité dans la région couverte par l’AFRITAC de l’Ouest. Le/la candidat(e) retenu(e)  pour le poste travaillera en étroite collaboration avec l’autre Conseiller pour la GFP, actuellement en poste à l’AFRITAC de l’Ouest.

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Job Offer: Public Financial Management Resident Advisor Based in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (IMF Job Number: 1300267)


The Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) of the IMF is looking for a well-qualified expert to fill a Public Financial Management (PFM) Resident Advisor position at the West African Regional Technical Assistance Center (West AFRITAC), established in 2003 and based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. The Advisor's appointment term, starting on July 2013, would be for a period of one year on a renewable basis, subject to satisfactory performance.

The Advisor will provide technical assistance (TA) on a range of PFM areas to the ten (10) countries covered by West AFRITAC, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. The Advisor's work program will cover the whole range of PFM areas: legal and regulatory framework; budget, financial control and audit with a focus on budget execution (including expenditure control and tracking, treasury operations, cash management, accounting, fiscal reporting, and financial management information system).

The Advisor will work under the general direction of the Coordinator of West AFRITAC while, on substantive issues, he/she will report to FAD staff in Washington, D.C. Extensive travel within the West AFRITAC region should be expected. The successful candidates will work closely with the other PFM Resident Advisor assigned to the Center.

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March 20, 2013

Mountains of Debt: The Cliffs, Slopes and Uncharted Territories of Today’s Public Finances in Advanced Economies

Posted by Carlo Cottarelli

This speech by Carlo Cottarelli, Director of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, was given as part of the International Economic Policy and Political Economy seminar series, organized by the Dept. of Economics, Boston College on February 18, 2013.

Thank you very much for inviting me here. Today, as the title of my presentation suggests, I will give you a guided tour of the land of public debt in advanced economies. It is not a pretty land. The fiscal accounts of many advanced countries are in their weakest state since… well one could say they have never been so bad. By the same token, it is a land that is not well known (we have never been there) and the risks in crossing it are difficult to evaluate. And, of course, in giving you this guided tour, I will also present the views of the IMF on how best to cross this dangerously unchartered territory.

Let me start with what happened in 2008…

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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.

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March 05, 2013

Can Arab Countries Improve Fiscal Transparency?

Posted by Manal Fouad

When people took to the streets in several Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries in early 2011, it was not only about social justice, but also to demand accountability from their governments. This means more information about how public resources are allocated, spent, and audited. Unfortunately, according to a recent publication by the International Budget Partnership, the MENA region records by far the lowest scores on transparency in the Open Budget Index, and most countries are still classified among those with scantest information about their budgets (only Jordan had a relatively good score of 57 in 2012, while Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen are all in the bottom range of 0-20). Even more troublesome, Egypt has seen a significant worsening in its rating from 49 in 2010 to only 13 in 2012.

Yet, many of the demands from the youth who led the Arab revolutions were for increased fiscal transparency. These demands range from disclosure of very simple figures to more complicated issues. Such disclosures would answer many questions that are vibrantly present in the public debate. How much does the debt contracted by previous regimes cost in the budget? Are these levels of debt more or less than the government’s spending on health and education? Are the high levels of public subsidy provided on commodities such as food and fuel appropriate? Do these subsidies reach their intended beneficiaries? How much is the military apparatus spending on its wages, pensions and equipment? How much do loss-making public enterprises cost the budget? Is the government paying its salaries and bills to public and private suppliers on time? And more fundamentally: what is the government’s medium-term vision and objectives for the country? Does the budget reflect the country’s and society’s priorities? Is the budget constructed on the basis of realistic assumptions on the availability of resources and costs of programs, and does it include contingencies for unexpected economic conditions or uncertain events? Is public debt sustainable?

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