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September 21, 2020

Tracking COVID-19 Operations in Francophone Africa

Covid
Posted by Jean-Luc Hélis, Jean-Pierre Nguenang, Amina Bambara, Jean-François Dagues, Abdoulaye Touré and Pierre Roumegas[1]

Many governments have developed administrative, fiscal, economic and social measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviate the suffering of their populations. These measures have been financed both from domestic and external resources. A recent technical note by the IMF argues that tools should be developed to track and transparently report on the use of these resources. The note focuses on reporting systems in Francophone Africa. Its recommendations are summarized below.[2]

    1. Two key objectives.
  • Disclose publicly information on COVID-19 operations in budget documents (budget laws and other budget execution reports) and other official reports.
  • Make adjustments to existing budget classification schemes to better track and report on COVID-19 related spending operations.

    2. Inclusion of COVID-19 resources in the economic classification of revenues.

  • Record debt relief (cancellations, deferral of debt service) by external partners as transfers in the accounts of central government financial operations when the government is the borrower.
  • Record earmarked COVID-19 funding from external and domestic partners under the Voluntary Contribution Fund (or “Fonds de concours”). An alternative option, but less preferred, would be to record these dedicated COVID-19 related funds under the special earmarked accounts (“Compte d’affectation spéciale") that exist in some countries.
  • Record interest expenses on the government’s borrowing to finance COVID-related spending in the budget. Amortization of the principal should be recorded as a financing operation as normal.
  • Consideration could be given to adding one more digit to the classification of revenues to identify all COVID-19 related resources.

    3. Inclusion of COVID-19 related expenditures in the classification by program.

 The preferred option would be to integrate COVID-related spending in a country’s existing program structure. Another option would be to create specific COVID-19 programs for those ministries participating in the government’s COVID-19 response plan.

    4. Inclusion of COVID-19 related expenditures in other classifications.

The administrative classification should be amended by creating a COVID-19 chapter within each ministry/institution participating to the COVID-19 response plan. The note also provides recommended solutions for amending the economic classification of expenditure and aligning the economic classification with the chart of accounts. It would be necessary to ensure that suspense accounts that are often used during emergencies are adjusted and cleared.

Finally, the note discusses the adjustments that may need to be made to governments’ financial management information systems to accommodate the changes in budget classification described above. These changes would enable the transparent reporting of COVID-19 related operations.

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] Jean-Luc Hélis and Jean-Pierre Nguenang are senior economists at the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD); Amina Bambara is an FAD long-term expert (LTX) in Togo; Jean-François Dagues is a former FAD LTX in Senegal; Abdoulaye Touré is an FAD LTX in Senegal; and Pierre Roumegas is an FAD short-term expert.

[2] Please contact jnguenang@imf.org or jhelis@imf.org for more details of the technical note.

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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