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February 2015

February 23, 2015

Budget Laws vs. Appropriation Acts


Posted by Renaud Duplay[1]

Is a government budget a forecast or an authorization? Both, of course, but ask various PFM practitioners to pick one answer first and you will see a clear divide between “macro-fiscalists” – who think forecasts first – and financial managers – who think of control and authorization first. But you may also detect some cultural divide as well: people from Westminster style countries may think forecasts first while people from continental European countries, like France, may choose authorization as the main feature of a budget.

This cultural divide, which my FAD colleague Benoit Chevauchez already discussed on a previous post on PFM taxonomy, may be linked to the various forms a budget can take as both a technical and a political object.

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February 20, 2015

Job Offer! Public Financial Management Resident Advisor (based in Dakar, Senegal) (Job Number: 1500093)



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 in the Ministry for Economy, Finance, and Planning of Senegal, based in Dakar. The Advisor’s appointment term 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 and will focus on macrofiscal and policy design and implementation, budget preparation and execution, and public investment management. He/she will more generally contribute to institutional reform and capacity building. The position is opened as part of a TA project designed to support the aforementioned PFM areas, and the Advisor will actively participate in the management of the project and the delivery of all TA activities supported by it.

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February 18, 2015

GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History


Posted by Chris Iles[1]

Diane Coyle’s recent book[2] has been on my reading list for some time, making it to the top of the pile over the Christmas break. Working at the IMF, and even just taking an interest in the Business and Economy pages of the media, the notion of GDP looms large. We take the concept of GDP for granted, but I have never been entirely comfortable with the way GDP figures are bandied about to compare the economic performance of disparate societies or to justify this or that unpopular policy; a good historical perspective on where it comes from and what it means seems like just the thing to assuage these misgivings.

Ms. Coyle gets down to business right from the first lines in her introduction. She opens with the still-topical challenges faced by the head of the Greek statistical agency (an ex-IMF staffer) in 2010 to highlight the significance of GDP in modern politics and finance, also acknowledging the various conceptual challenges that it faces.

Continue reading "GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History" »

February 13, 2015

Making More Efficient Use of Performance Information


Posted by Benoit Chevauchez[1]                                                                      

The role of performance information (PI) in budget management has grown hugely in advanced economies and is likely to increase in the future. PI is quantitative data on the actual or expected results of government policies and programs, associated with information on incurred costs.PI on activities, results, outputs or outcomes are non-financial data, while PI on inputs and costs are mostly financial data. Non-financial PI may take different forms such as indicators, benchmarks, ratings, rankings, league tables or scores.Such information allows the effectiveness and efficiency of public policies to be assessed, and may be used in a vast array of budget or non-budget environments.More than 80 percent of OECD countries are now using PI to support budget management. This rapid growth has gone hand in hand with the development of program and multiyear budgeting as well as with public policy evaluations and spending reviews. The present worldwide focus on fiscal consolidation, with shrinking fiscal space, demands a larger use of PI in order to strengthen the allocation process.  

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February 12, 2015

IMF Job Offer! Public Financial Management Resident Advisor

Job Description: Public Financial Management Resident Advisor (based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire) (Job Number: 1500092)


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 Bamako, Mali. The Advisor’s appointment term 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 focus on treasury management and government accounting and reporting but will also cover mainly the following PFM areas: treasury operations, cash management,  internal control and audit and the overall legal and regulatory framework.

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February 09, 2015

Digitization of Payments in Mexico Saves Billions


Posted by Ruth Goodwin-Groen[1]

The Mexican government is saving an estimated US$ 1.27 billion per year, or 3.3 percent of its total expenditure, on wages, pensions and social transfers. How? By digitizing and centralizing its payments.

The Mexican government’s reform is the story of a sustained effort over time driven by successive, committed Ministers of Finance and Treasurers who were sure of the ultimate benefits of electronic payments systems. This process and the resulting lessons have been examined by the Better Than Cash Alliance in an in-depth case study entitled, Sustained Effort, Saving Billions: Lessons from the Mexican Government’s Shift to Electronic Payments.[2]

The Better Than Cash Alliance is a partnership whose members are committed to moving away from cash to digital payments. Housed at the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the Alliance is uniquely positioned to bring together a broad cross section of governments, multilateral and bilateral donors, UN Agencies, international NGOs and companies. The Alliance is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, the Ford Foundation, the Omidyar Network, USAID and Visa Inc. It operates both globally and in country, providing diagnostics, toolkits, technical support and case studies, like the present example from Mexico.

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February 06, 2015

Strengthening PFM in the Central African Republic


Posted by Olivier Benon, Abdoulaye Touré and Marie-Christine Uguen[1]

From November 24—28, 2014, AFRITAC Central (AFC) organized a seminar in Douala, Cameroon, on rebuilding the budgetary and accounting  functions of the Central African Republic (CAR). The workshop was attended by 28 finance officials from CAR’s Ministry of Finance and Budget, the Ministry of Economy and Development, several line ministries (Health, Education, Public Service, and Defense) and the central bank (BEAC).

Background and objectives

Because of the tense security situation in Bangui since 2014, AFC has been unable to deliver technical assistance (TA) in CAR, and have instead used safe havens in neighboring countries such as Cameroon. The November workshop was the first of a series of similar events dedicated exclusively to CAR officials during FY2015.

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February 04, 2015

Job Opportunity! Research Fellow with ODI


is looking for a Research Fellow with world class knowledge of applied public policy who will be responsible for development and delivery of a portfolio of research, policy advice and public affairs in the area of public finance and public management. The portfolio may include, but not be limited to, issues of fiscal policy, revenue and expenditure management and public sector reform. They will lead research projects, engage with policymakers and disseminate results. See more at: http://jobs.odi.org.uk/VacancyInformation.aspx?VId=21039#sthash.K0mHqmvi.dpuf


ODI is an independent think tank with more than 230 staff, including researchers, communicators and specialist support staff. We provide high-quality research, policy advice, consultancy services and tailored training – bridging the gap between research and policy and using innovative communication to mobilise audiences.

Note: The posts on the IMF PFM Blog should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy.

February 03, 2015

What Drives Improvements in PFM Performance?


Posted by Verena Fritz, Marijn Verhoeven and Stephanie Sweet

Reforms of public financial management (PFM) systems – pursued by many countries and supported by development partners -- have attracted considerable debate and analysis in recent years. Significant variation in progress achieved and lack of broad-based and sustained improvements in metrics of PFM performance, as reflected in the World Bank’s CPIA ratings and PEFA scores, suggests to many observers that outcomes have not matched reform efforts and expectations. 

This has led to a search for better solutions in two directions: first, grounding reform efforts in stronger problem analysis, and based on this, a better fit and sequencing of reform approaches to specific country circumstances and identified bottlenecks. Second, seeking a better understanding of non-technical aspects and, in particular, the role of political economy drivers in influencing which PFM reforms are pursued, in which countries, and with what degree of success. ‘Doing things differently’ along these lines sounds promising, but reformers and development partners may well question whether we know enough to pursue such alternative approaches on a wider scale. 

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