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September 03, 2020

GIFT Guide on Fiscal Data for Emergency Responses

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Posted by Lorena Rivero and Juan Pablo Guerrero[1]

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many governments to launch emergency spending and tax policy measures to mitigate the potentially catastrophic impact on the health of their people and economies. The speed of these adjustments has challenged traditional approaches to managing risks, inefficiencies, budgetary allocations and corruption. At the same time, fiscal rules have been put on hold. Budget balances, debt obligations and revenue adjustments in many countries exceed any level that would have been deemed acceptable before March 2020.

In a context in which rapid decision-making has become the norm, traditional mechanisms for providing information to the public have fragmented or broken down.  Some governments have succeeded in disclosing information on emergency responses transparently, but many have not had the political will or the tools to do so.

The GIFT network has created a practical guide to help practitioners identify the datasets and data fields that are required for informed internal decision-making and transparent disclosure of information related to emergency responses. Preparation of the Guide is the result of a multi-stakeholder effort with representatives from nine ministries of finance, 16 civil society expert organizations and 12 international organizations. The Guide is designed to help governments gather and organize fiscal information and to facilitate its internal and external use.

The Guide includes 15 datasets and 13 time series grouped into four dimensions as follows:

  • Emergency and countercyclical spending (including budget adjustments, extra-budgetary funds, performance indicators, investments, payroll and procurement);
  • Tax relief measures and deferrals;
  • Revenue adjustments and additional funding sources (covering revenue adjustments, contingent tax collections, loans and other debt instruments, and external development and humanitarian resource flows); and
  • The macroeconomic impact of the emergency fiscal measures.

Each dataset is further disaggregated into more than 370 relevant data fields. The Guide also includes examples of how the data can be used by governments and other stakeholders for various purposes of management, monitoring and evaluation.

Bearing in mind that data quality and availability is an important limitation in many countries—particularly for such an extensive list of data fields—the Guide includes a section on customizing the tool for application in different national contexts, and key prerequisites for publication, including data availability and quality.

Reality check:  Unfortunately, we need to recognize that this is not the only emergency that the world faces nowadays or will face in the future—especially considering the effects of climate change. Therefore, GIFT will consider how the data architecture presented in the Guide can be applied more generally in the context of national and international emergencies.

This article is part of a series related to the Coronavirus Crisis. All of our articles covering the topic can be found on our PFM Blog Coronavirus Articles page.


[1] Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT).

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.


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