Budget Execution

May 02, 2022

Budgetary Practices of the Spanish Regional Governments

May 2


Posted by Jordi Baños, Daniel Montolio and Clara Picanyol[1]

Spain is considered a highly decentralized country, where Regional Governments (called “Autonomous Communities”) manage around 31% of total public sector expenditure (Euro 224 billion in 2021 (19% of GDP)), providing healthcare, education, long-term care, and social services, among other services. The debt levels of Regional Governments have increased, especially after the 2008/09 global financial crisis, reaching 25.9% of GDP in 2021.

Continue reading " Budgetary Practices of the Spanish Regional Governments " »

August 17, 2016

How to Link SDGs to the Budget

SDGs and the Budget

Posted by Suren Poghosyan[1]

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were critical in presenting a global policy agenda with country-specific targets. MDG processes, however, were not well coordinated with countries’ national policies and budget processes. Ministries of finance were detached from the core dialog on MDGs, and there was a mismatch between the MDGs and budget classification systems. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have replaced the MDGs with a more comprehensive policy agenda that now covers all countries. Developing countries, however, will face challenges in effectively transforming the SDGs into national policies and budgets. How therefore to build a stronger bridge between the SDGs and countries’ budget processes?

Even if development goals are effectively transformed into sector strategies, budget decisions are based on their own set of processes and parameters. Some reports suggest that the UN’s functional classification system (COFOG) has been used to bridge budget allocations with the MDGs, but COFOG was never designed to serve that purpose. In some countries, civil society organizations (CSOs) have monitored the impact of selected MDGs on the budget. However, in most cases, finance ministries have continued their routine budget planning and execution processes with only occasional reflections on the MDG targets.

Continue reading "How to Link SDGs to the Budget" »

May 25, 2016

Implementing the PFM Directives in WAEMU

Le Pole

Posted by Jérôme Bonherbe[2]

Directives[3] issued by the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) contain many provisions on public financial management (PFM). These provisions include better access to budget information, multiyear budgeting, results-oriented management, decentralized budget execution, and a new accounting and financial monitoring framework. Most of the provisions relating to public information and budget formulation came into effect in 2012. The deadline for implementing the remaining provisions, mainly on budget execution and controls, is set for 2017.

The WAEMU Commission recently carried out a self-assessment of the PFM reforms required by the Directives. This exercise used a tool prepared by the Commission that includes a range of objective, evidence-based indicators for each of the six Directives. A similar approach and tool are being employed by the CEMAC Commission for its countries[4].

Continue reading "Implementing the PFM Directives in WAEMU" »

May 09, 2016

Going Digital: Improving the Disclosure of Fiscal Information


Posted by Paolo de Renzio, Jorge Romero Leon, Diego de la Mora and Liliana Ruiz[1]

Some 20 years ago, putting budget information in the public domain often meant printing and carrying thick reams of paper for distribution to parliamentarians, the press and other interested actors. Nowadays, strong arms and large amounts of paper are no longer a prerequisite for budget transparency and accountability. Government finance officials simply upload information onto their ministry’s website, while journalists and civil society activists sit at their desks and access the information through their computers. Governments have also started making detailed budget information available through “transparency portals,” where large datasets are made available in searchable and downloadable formats. How are governments setting themselves up for fiscal transparency in the digital age? And how do these changes actually affect fiscal transparency and accountability? Recent research[2] carried out by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) and Fundar attempts to answer these questions.

Continue reading "Going Digital: Improving the Disclosure of Fiscal Information" »

March 23, 2016

Projecting Expenditure Baselines in Barcelona


Posted by Jordi Baños-Rovira[1]

In recent years, Barcelona City Council has introduced a range of budget reforms to improve the efficiency of resource allocation and operational management[2]. In particular, a performance-based budgeting system (called the “Executive Budget’) has been developed, linked to the goals set in the Government’s Development Plan[3].

A key element of this new budget preparation process is the development of baseline projections of expenditure, which estimate the spending required to maintain current policies (or levels of service) for the next year, and to comply with already approved multi-year commitments. Budget requests by departments thus comprise two elements: the spending baselines, and additional resources required to finance new projects and services, and other policy changes.

Continue reading "Projecting Expenditure Baselines in Barcelona" »

January 30, 2015

Angels and Demons – the Political Economy of PFM Reform

 Angels and Demons
Posted by Richard Allen1

In a thought-provoking presentation during the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department’s (FAD) 50th Anniversary Conference on December 5, 2014, Professor Ravi Kanbur of Cornell University analyzed the intellectual origins and roots of FAD.  In his view, these roots derive not from the influence of Keynes, one of the founding fathers of the IMF, who was more concerned with issues of monetary policy and balance of payments stabilization than with fiscal policy. A much stronger influence on FAD’s development was one of Keynes’ illustrious colleagues at Cambridge University, Arthur Pigou. Professor Kanbur’s main thesis [Presentation_Available here (.ppt)], however, was that FAD, while responsible for many important applications of fiscal policy, had taken little advantage of important recent work on political economy analysis, and the application of behavioral economics to fiscal issues. These developments derive from the work of notable economists such as Knut Wicksell and 2002 Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. Another strong influence has been the work on public choice theory and the economics of state bureaucracy, a line running from Pareto, through the great Italian school of public finance to the work of scholars such as Buchanan, Tullock and Peacock.

Continue reading "Angels and Demons – the Political Economy of PFM Reform" »

January 27, 2015

Book Announcement: Reconstructing Iraq's Budgetary Institutions: Coalition State Building After Saddam

  Savage, J.D
Posted by James D. Savage, University of Virginia

The invasion of Iraq led to a costly nine-year state-building and reconstruction effort. Reconstructing Iraq's budgetary institutions proved to be a vital element of the state-building project, as allocating Iraq's growing oil revenues to pay salaries and pensions, build infrastructure, and provide essential public services played a key role in the Coalition's counterinsurgency strategy.  Employing a historical institutionalist approach, this book first explores the Ottoman, British, and Ba'athist origins of Iraq's budgetary institutions. The book next examines American pre-war planning, the Coalition Provisional Authority's rule making and budgeting following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the mixed success of the Coalition's capacity-building programs initiated throughout the occupation. The budgetary process introduced by the Coalition offered a source of institutional stability in the midst of insurgency, sectarian violence, economic uncertainty, and occupation. This book explores the problem of "outsiders" building states, contributes to a more comprehensive evaluation of the Coalition in Iraq, addresses the question of why Iraqis took ownership of some Coalition-generated institutions and not others, and helps explain the nature of institutional change.

Continue reading "Book Announcement: Reconstructing Iraq's Budgetary Institutions: Coalition State Building After Saddam" »

December 23, 2013

Strengthening the Capacity of Parliaments in the Budget Process

Posted by Carlos Santiso and Marco Varea*

In the past decade, parliaments in many parts of the world have flexed their muscles by demanding more information about the government’s performance in managing public resources. In the Latin America and the Caribbean region, however, the capacity of the parliament to influence budgetary matters—and more generally fiscal policy and public financial management— is hindered not only by the centralized nature of the budget process, but also by the legislature’s lack of technical and institutional capacity.

Continue reading "Strengthening the Capacity of Parliaments in the Budget Process" »

September 11, 2012

Timing is Everything: Why Delays in Budget Approval are Undermining Fiscal Policy in Africa…And What Can Be Done About It

Posted by Camille Karamaga

A number of serious public financial management (PFM) problems in Africa can be traced back to a single, simple issue – late submission to and approval of the budget by the legislature. Limited legislative scrutiny of fiscal and budgetary policies undermines transparency and accountability in resource allocation and utilization which form the cornerstone of a good PFM system. Failure to provide the legislature with adequate time to scrutinize the budget reduces their ability to undertake critical analysis of fiscal policies and service delivery objectives. Late approval of the budget also prevents government entities from initiating procurement processes at the start of the financial year based on the approved budget, especially where special warrants or pro forma rules rather than systematic cash plans prepared by spending agencies are used to release funds.

The need to provide adequate time for parliament to scrutinize the budget and for line ministries to plan for the year ahead is recognized in both international standards and national laws. International experience recommends that the annual budget estimates be tabled in the legislature at least three months before the beginning of the new financial year in order to allow meaningful scrutiny. Guidelines on good practice in this area are provided in documents such as the IMF’s Code of Fiscal Transparency, the OECD’s Guidelines on Transparency, and the PEFA Performance Measurement Framework.

Continue reading "Timing is Everything: Why Delays in Budget Approval are Undermining Fiscal Policy in Africa…And What Can Be Done About It" »

October 03, 2011

Budget Institutions Supporting Fiscal Consolidation

Posted by David Nummy

Countries around the world are struggling to devise the policies that will best address the challenges resulting from the financial crisis. In a book to be issued by the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund, the case is made that key budget institutions will be necessary to both devise and execute those policies.

Previewing the book that will be issued later this year, Marco Cangiano kicked off the International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management (ICGFM) fall season by presenting on Budget Institutions for the 21st Century at the monthly DC Forum held at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington, DC on September 7, 2011. Mr. Cangiano, an Assistant Director of the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department, outlined ten budget institutions that will be key to countries around the world in addressing the challenges of dealing with the post-financial crisis environment in the three typical phases of a fiscal consolidation (but the same would apply in designing a stimulus package): understanding the fiscal challenge; developing a strategy; and implementation of the strategy though the budget process.

Continue reading "Budget Institutions Supporting Fiscal Consolidation" »

October 20, 2010

Legislatures and the Budget Process – New Book Published

Posted by Ian Lienert

Are legislatures in control of budget processes?  Or is fiscal control a myth?  Professor Joachim Wehner of London School of Economics addresses these and other questions in a new book on the role of the legislature in annual budget decision-making. The book’s recent publication is very timely, given the need for many advanced countries to implement credible fiscal plans, which may be proposed by governments but rejected by parliaments.

There is a dearth of theory-based studies that explain the observed wide variation in the legislature’s role in budget processes in different institutional settings. Most studies focus on the well known polar cases of very strong legislatures (notably the United States) and those where fiscal control is largely a myth (notably the United Kingdom). In contrast, the new book’s empirical work is based on a large sample of countries and provides strong evidence for the importance of legislatures’ budget amendment powers in determining fiscal outcomes.

Continue reading "Legislatures and the Budget Process – New Book Published" »

September 29, 2010

Fiscal Transparency in Cameroon: a Top Concern for the Government

Posted by Manal Fouad and Edouard Martin (IMF's Fiscal Affairs Department)

Cameroon's dialogue with the Fund on fiscal transparency issues goes far back. Hence, Cameroon was one of the two pilot countries to experiment with the fiscal module of Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC), when the Fund launched the initiative in 1999.

Eleven years later, a ROSC reassessment shows that Cameroon has made important strides to comply with the principles of the IMF Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency. Such progress is the result of an active government engagement towards improving public financial management and transparency, which is now set as one of the objectives of the budgetary process. Consistent with this engagement, numerous reforms have been implemented to improve transparency, some with the help of development partners and with technical assistance from the IMF. For instance, Cameroon joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in March 2005, creating in the process a platform for dialogue on public finance involving representatives of government, donors and lenders, and civil society. Also, a new budget system law, encompassing modern PFM techniques and generally in line with international good practices was promulgated in 2007; its provisions are expected to be fully in place by 2012. During its discussions in Yaoundé, the authors of the report met with the community of NGOs, journalists, and other stakeholders, who were outspoken and keenly interested in transparency issues and in working toward high standards for their country.

Continue reading "Fiscal Transparency in Cameroon: a Top Concern for the Government" »

August 11, 2010

A Stock-Take on African PFM

Posted by Matt Andrews

How strong has African PFM become? How do African public financial management (PFM) systems in place now facilitate effective public financial management? Where are the next challenges and how can they be met? A recent paper of mine addresses these questions, using PEFA analyses to identify central themes of the continent’s recent PFM story. The themes emerge from quantitative and qualitative data in 31 central government PEFAs completed prior to mid-2008 and tell a story in two parts: (i) across PFM processes, and (ii) across countries.

Continue reading "A Stock-Take on African PFM" »

March 10, 2008

Extrabudgetary Funds -- Removing the 'Extra' and Minimizing the Risks

Posted by Bill Dorotinsky

Extra-budgetary funds (EBFs) are a large and persistent issue in developed and developing countries. An October 26, 2007, blog post highlighted the magnitude of such funds, offered a taxonomy of EBFs, and suggested some questions for evaluating them. This post offers a similar perspective, drawing on a draft World Bank policy note prepared for the Polish authorities in 2001.

Public finance professionals generally oppose creation or continuation of 'extra-budgetary funds' because they undermine comprehensive budgeting, fragment financial reporting and cash management, and frequently there are transparency, oversight, and accountability concerns for the EBF's directly. But there are principles that, if followed, can minimize the risks from EBF’s, effectively removing their ‘extra-budgetary’ character.

Continue reading "Extrabudgetary Funds -- Removing the 'Extra' and Minimizing the Risks" »

February 04, 2008

The Value of PETS

Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys: Detecting Leakages in Public Service Delivery Chains

Posted by Francois Michel

The major argument of the World Development Report 2004 : Making services work for poor people was that developing public services is fundamental for achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals and, beyond, creating conditions for sustainable growth. In addition, the report convincingly showed that the issue was not only one of funding. In most sectors and developing countries, there is a weak association between spending and outputs—more money does not translate directly into better “front-line” services. Associating inputs with outcomes appears to be an even thornier issue.

Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys (PETS) are one of the tools developed by the World Bank to grapple with the issue, as Doris Voorbraak and Kai Kaiser (respectively Senior Public Sector Specialist and Senior Economist, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, World Bank) presented at an FAD seminar on December 20, 2007 (Download public_expenditure_tracking_surveys.ppt ).

Continue reading "The Value of PETS" »

January 21, 2008

Introducing Financial Management Information Systems in Developing Countries

–  serious delays and limited success

Posted by Pokar Khemani

In the past decade, developing countries have increasingly embarked on major projects to computerize government budgeting, accounting and payment operations, by introducing a financial management information system (FMIS). An October 2005, IMF FAD Working paper, "Introducing Financial Management Information Systems in Developing Countries," by IMF staff Jack Diamond and Pokar Khemani  investigates the reason for serious delays and frequent failure to implement and sustain FMISs in developing countries.

[Click here to donwload Download introducing_financial_management_information_systems_in_developing_countries.DOC ]

The paper starts with a review of the “received wisdom” in implementing these projects, and then analyzes problems in its application in the developing country context to identify key factors to explain why FMIS projects have been so problematic. Based on the identified negative factors, suggestions for addressing them are offered in the hope of improving success rates.

Continue reading "Introducing Financial Management Information Systems in Developing Countries" »

January 16, 2008

PFM Reform Lessons – Building a Treasury in Indonesia

Posted by Bill Dorotinsky

Public financial management (PFM) is at the center of the development agenda. Sound PFM systems are essential for countries to maintain macrofiscal discipline, achieve national objectives, and use resources efficiently – regardless of the source of financing. Sound PFM systems are an essential component for giving substance to the 2002 Monterrey Consensus (proposal for a new partnership of mutual accountability between countries and development partners), the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005), and for countries to achieve their national objectives and the Millennium Development Goals.

Despite the centrality of PFM, there is still much to learn in terms of improving PFM reform outcomes, building capacity, and strengthening country systems durably. The process of learning what works and how best to support reforms is an on-going effort, with some important lessons emerging (see December 21 post on Mozambique). A recent IMF Survey On-line post on Indonesia cash management reform by FAD staff member Ian Lienert adds to our understanding, providing some useful lessons of PFM reform.

Continue reading "PFM Reform Lessons – Building a Treasury in Indonesia" »

January 08, 2008

Update on: Public Cash Management and the Subprime Loan Crisis: Be Aware of Financial Investment Risks

Posted by Michel Lazare

Last week, PFM Blog published a post on "Public Cash Management and the Subprime Loan Crisis: Be Aware of Financial Investment Risks."

Since then, PFM Blog learned that limits on cash withdrawals from the Florida investment pool will soon be somewhat relaxed.

The Palm Beach Post reported that "local government officials across Florida were told [on January 3] that by the end of [January] they can expect to freely remove up to 21 percent of their balance from the state-run investment pool that is either frozen or subject to withdrawal penalties."

See the full Palm Beach Post article for further details.

January 04, 2008

Public Cash Management and the Subprime Loan Crisis: Be Aware of Financial Investment Risks

Posted by Michel Lazare

Effective cash management is one of the basic pillars of sound public financial management. The essence of effective cash management is conservation of cash. This includes minimizing idle cash balances by: (a) keeping on the government's account only the working cash balances needed to face day-to-day routine expenditures and the cash needed to face immediate financial obligations; (b) investing the remaining cash on liquid and interest-earning financial assets.

So far, so good. But, like any other financial investment, investing cash may present risks. A January 1, 2008, article in the New York Times provides a good illustration of the potential risks involved: municipalities in Florida have become victims of the subprime loan crisis.

Continue reading "Public Cash Management and the Subprime Loan Crisis: Be Aware of Financial Investment Risks" »

December 12, 2007

Automating Public Financial Management Systems for Results

Posted by Bill Dorotinsky

Over the past few decades, governments and development agencies alike have invested enormous financial and human resources into automating public financial management (PFM) systems, and often the results have been less than hoped. Governments have had difficulty implementing systems, and not achieved desired functionality. And development partners have invested large sums of money, only to find systems delayed in implementation, having limited impact, and often with real challenges to the sustainability of the systems. On December 2-4, 2007, the International Consortium of Governmental Financial Management (ICGFM) held a two-day workshop entitled "Use of Financial Management Information Systems (FMIS) to Improve Financial Management and Accountability in the Public Sector".  While the conference title and topic might cause eyes to glaze over with visions of technical issues, the conference was a useful glimpse into current thinking on PFM system automation, and full of practical advice to those concerned with PFM system automation.

Conference presentations from government authorities, international organizations, and consultants covered topics such as how FMIS fits within the over-all PFM reform agenda, planning for FMIS development, FMIS design components, IT alternatives, project management, procurement, and capacity building. The conference program and all the presentations made are available on-line at the ICGFM website under Winter Conference.

Continue reading "Automating Public Financial Management Systems for Results" »

December 05, 2007

Germany: Ministry of Finance's Task Force Recommends Introduction of Performance Budgeting and Accrual Accounting

Posted by Michel Lazare

A few days ago, our FAD colleague and PFM Blog author Marc Robinson published a short article in IMFSurvey Magazine titled "Major Reforms for German Budget System." Here is a summary of the key points; the full text of the article is accessible by clicking here.

The German Ministry of Finance's Budget and Accounting Reform Task Force, who was assisted by staff of FAD, recently recommended "the introduction of product budgets--often known elsewhere as programs. The intention is to focus greater attention in the budget formulation stage on choices about how much money is allocated to" various outputs.

"Under the task force's proposals, the product budgets would not in the first instance be used for parliamentary budget appropriations. The idea is that they would initially be used [...] in formulating the budget. The logical next step would, however, be to shift the annual budget law also onto programmatic basis."

Continue reading "Germany: Ministry of Finance's Task Force Recommends Introduction of Performance Budgeting and Accrual Accounting" »

November 26, 2007

PFM Reforms and Public Expenditure Efficiency: Key PFM Reforms Playing a Role in Effectively Controlling Public Expenditure

Posted by Michel Lazare

There are seven key institutional arrangements for budgeting that play a key role in effectively controlling public expenditures in OECD countries.

This is at least the view presented in 2005 by Jon Blondal (the then Acting Head of the Budgeting and Management Division of the OECD) on the occasion of the 7th Banca d'Italia Workshop on Public Finance. In Jon Blöndal's view, there are three major determinants of the fiscal outcomes of OECD member countries: (1) the general performance of the economy (which is the main driver), (2) the political commitment to fiscal discipline, and (3) the institutional arrangements for budgeting. The presence of the two first factors being insufficient to experience a successful fiscal outcome.

Continue reading "PFM Reforms and Public Expenditure Efficiency: Key PFM Reforms Playing a Role in Effectively Controlling Public Expenditure" »

November 05, 2007

France's National Audit Office ("Cour des Comptes"): 200 years and counting!

Posted by Michel Lazare and Dominique Bouley


On November 5, 2007, the French National Audit Office (La Cour des Comptes) celebrates its 200th anniversary with a re-enactment of its 1807 inaugural session. The current Cour des Comptes was created by Emperor Napoleon I (in a September 16, 1807 law).

Its historical roots are even much older: a royal ordinance in 1256 prescribed that mayors in Normandy had to report their financial accounts to a royal commission once a year; and an institution called chambre des comptes was created in 1303.

Continue reading "France's National Audit Office ("Cour des Comptes"): 200 years and counting!" »

October 29, 2007

Expenditure Commitment Controls, the essence of fiscal discipline – IMF Technical Guidance Note

Posted by Dimitar Radev and Pokar Khemani

Fiscal discipline, one of the key objectives of good public financial management (PFM), requires a well developed expenditure control framework, including at the commitment level, to prevent accumulation of payment arrears. A July 2006 IMF FAD Technical Guidance Note, "Commitment Controls," by FAD staff members Dimitar Radev and Pokar Khemani, provides technical advice on a number of areas related to commitment controls, including objectives, preconditions for successful implementation, and institutional design. These guidelines are intended to apply primarily to IMF operational work and technical assistance but have also implications for the relevant government departments and agencies within national, provincial/state and local jurisdictions.

Continue reading "Expenditure Commitment Controls, the essence of fiscal discipline – IMF Technical Guidance Note" »

October 23, 2007

Budget practices and procedures — everything you'd want to know about OECD countries

Posted by Bill Dorotinsky

Ever lay sleepless at night, wondering how far in advance of the new fiscal year OECD country legislatures receive the budget from the executive? Or if ministers in OECD countries are allowed to reallocate/vire funds between line items within their responsibility? For PFM specialists and country PFM officials, these can be important guideposts for reform directions.

Well, wonder no more, and sleep peacefully. The OECD just released publicly their Budget Process and Procedures database for 2007, featuring 30 OECD and 8 non-OECD countries. As the OECD web page itself says: "The purpose ... is to provide budget practitioners and academics the opportunity to compare and contrast national budgeting and financial management practices with a view to share experiences and best practices. It is a unique, comprehensive and free resource that covers the entire budget cycle: preparation, approval, execution, accounting and audit, and performance information."

October 11, 2007

Public Investment: Good Project Management is an Issue of ...Capital Importance

"Unexpected changes to payment schedules related to capital projects can create significant difficulties for finance officers responsible for cash management" remarks Steven R. Kreklow (*) in his short article ("Capital Project Cash Flow Management") of the August 2007 issue of the Government Finance Review, the membership magazine of the US-based Government Finance Officers Association.

This adverse impact on cash management and more generally budget execution can be mitigated by good budget and project management techniques described in Steven R. Krelow's article.

Continue reading "Public Investment: Good Project Management is an Issue of ...Capital Importance" »

Back to top of page
©2007 IMF. All Rights Reserved. About Us | Terms of Use