Georgia Martvili 2022
1. The purpose of this PEFA assessment is to provide an objective analysis of the present performance of the Public Financial Management system in the municipality of Martvili against the PEFA indicators. This assessment provides an update of progress in PFM since the last assessment in 2018 which was the first assessment using the 2016 PEFA methodology. It establishes a new baseline of performance.
2. The assessment covered expenditures by subnational government budgetary units. Revenues are collected by the Georgia Revenue Services on behalf of Martvili; therefore, this subject was considered not applicable. There are no extra-budgetary units and no local government below the municipality level.
3. The full assessment team visited Martvili on its main fact-finding mission 3 to 5 October 2022. Follow up was conducted after the mission with a cut off period of 10 November. The assessment team met with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Head of Finance Department as well as other relevant officials. Prior to the main fact-finding mission there was contact with the Finance Department to discuss the data requirements and ensure that the mission timing was convenient. The financial years covered were 2019 to 2021.
4. Overall, the results of the assessment show that budget execution and accounting systems in Martvili are strong and improved as the PFM Reform Action Plan has been implemented. However, progress in budget planning and preparation is at the early stage of development.
5. Budget reliability in the municipality context depends for the most part on the reliability of information on grants to be received from the national government. The strengths from the distribution of VAT as a grant are offset by weakness on targeted grants which for Martvili amounts to 44% of the grants total. The realization of expenditure in the budget is significantly larger than planned. However, these results have been affected by the uncertainties resulting from COVID-19 and also by the impact of targeted grants and the expenditure they support often not having been included in the original budget. Georgia has an impressive array of information regarding the finances of the budgetary central government which is replicated in Martvili. Information on performance plans and achievements in service delivery outputs and outcomes across the government sectors is good. Public access to fiscal information is good although public consultation is confined to the budget preparation phase.
6. Tentative steps have been made towards a comprehensive medium-term expenditure framework based on a program budgeting for results approach. The budget is presented for the up-coming year with medium-term estimates that include information on expenditures by economic, administrative, and program classifications. The multi-year information on grants from the distribution of VAT assists in this process but this is offset by information on other grants for the budget year only.
7. Revenue administration is carried out by the Georgia Revenue Services. A revenue report is prepared monthly for the municipality management. The municipality works in conjunction with the Georgian Treasury and based on its cash inflows and outflows forecasts, deposits a part of its cash in commercial banks through daily auctions. Budgetary units are able to plan and commit expenditure for one year in advance on the basis of quarterly ceilings, in accordance with the budgeted appropriations and commitment releases. Management of budget releases has been successful in controlling arrears.
8. The payroll system is strong. All government contracts are procured through the Georgian EGovernment Procurement System. However, a relatively low, by Georgian standards, sixty-six per cent of the value of contracts is procured through competitive procurement methods. Internal controls on non-salary expenditure are very high with strong segregation of duties, effective commitment controls and compliance with payment rules and procedures. The internal audit function is strong with a focus on evaluations of the adequacy and effectiveness of internal controls in high risk areas. Accounts reconciliation and financial data integrity are areas of strengths. Consolidated budget execution reports are prepared quarterly and issued to the Sakrebulo (Assembly) and published. The situation with respect to the annual financial reports is positive. Martvili applies the current national accounting standards for its financial statements.
9. While external audit standards are an area of significant strength, annual audit coverage is not mandatory. The timing of audits should take place at least once every three years and is dependent on risk analysis and the State Audit Office’s work program given its resources. There was no financial audit during the assessment period. The Sakrebulo is mandated to conduct its own legislative scrutiny of audit reports. In the past this aspect of external scrutiny was left to Parliament.
10. The effectiveness of the internal control framework in Martvili is scrutinized by the Ministry of Finance and State Audit Office. The Central Harmonization Unit in the Ministry of Finance annually collects, consolidates and analyzes the information based on the annual reports. Under financial and compliance audits, the State Audit Office identifies/tests and evaluates the existence/functionality of the internal controls applied for the public expenditures, including salary and non-salary expenses. The State Audit Office does not carry out an audit of Martvili every year, and there was no financial audit in the assessment period. There was one compliance audit.
11. An overriding feature of PFM during the assessment period (2019 to 2021) was the development and maintenance of processes in Georgia in budget preparation, budget execution (accounts, commitment control, and cash management), personnel and payroll, revenue services, and procurement. Development occurred at the central government and subnational levels. It was achieved even with the impact of COVID-19 on the country. This achievement continued with the application of IT developed in-country based on business processes in each of the subject areas, and not on the reconfiguration of business practices to suit particular software. Adoption of IT solutions, combined with the internet as a vehicle for its implementation by competent and trained personnel, has been fundamental to the development of strengths in PFM. The continued integration and roll out of IT, internet, and enhanced personnel skills through training resulted in effective and efficient PFM.
Aggregate Fiscal Discipline
12. Aggregate fiscal discipline has been affected by the pandemic. It has had an impact on the municipality’s main source of income- grant revenue from the distribution of VAT based on population characteristics. However, the built-in procedures for other grants from the center have exacerbated fiscal discipline as they are often outside the budget preparatory process. Nevertheless, control overspending during budget execution was maintained. Strong revenue administration ensured that revenues were efficiently collected. Given the need of flexibility in budget execution and that both virement and supplementary budgets were used, the rules and procedures relating to these processes were not circumvented. Treasury operations and cash management enabled expenditures to be managed within the available resources. Control of contractual commitments was effective and limited expenditure arrears. The strong internal and external audit function enhanced fiscal discipline.
13.The Georgian public financial management system includes clear rules and procedures for budget modification and flexibility in execution to meet national needs, and these proved their worth during the COVID pandemic and economic downturn. Martvili used its formal processes to amend the budget and used formal virement processes to adjust spending to address the pandemic and economic priorities while maintaining fiscal control. Policy officials had in-year data to manage spending, and the municipality management had the necessary instruments to assure fiscal discipline within government-approved spending parameters.
Strategic Allocation of Resources
14. The Chart of Accounts caters to a multi-dimensional analysis of expenditure. There is a developing link between the medium-term perspective in expenditure budgeting and strategic plans in the program budget approach to achieving results that is consistent with a strategic allocation of resources. The Priorities Document, the medium-term action plan of the municipality is an emerging guide to the allocation of resources over the next 4-years in terms of revenues and expenditures. The management of investment that has been implemented is linked to priority needs. Recurrent cost implication of investment is factored into the aggregate budget. Monitoring of project implementation has ensured that planned activities are being delivered.
15. Overall, Georgia, including both the central and local governments, has developed the key tools for strategic allocation of resources by elected officials (fiscal strategy, functional and programmatic budget classification, regular in-year reports on expenditure according to policy priorities, regularized budget amendments and virement procedures), covering both tools for planning and tools for monitoring implementation and controlling to plan. Budget performance has been in alignment with plans, even considering the disruption of COVID. The past three years have been a challenge to fiscal management which tested the Georgian PFM system and the system performed as intended. Efficient Use of Resources for Service Delivery
16. The previous weaknesses in competitive bidding in the procurement system regarding the appeals and dispute process have been addressed which has positive implications for efficiency in service delivery. Martvili’s level of competitive bidding is 66% of total. The strengths in the accountability mechanisms make internal and external audits effective as counter checks on inefficient use of resources. The development of and timely consolidation of annual financial statements for the municipality enhances the impact of external audits. Although external audits are not conducted annually (which in turn limits the effectiveness of oversight), no financial audits have been performed in the three assessment years, although there was one compliance audit. Publishing of performance targets and outcomes also supports the efficient use of resources in municipal service delivery units. Performance Changes since Previous Assessment
17. The 2018 and the current PEFA assessment were performed using the 2016 methodology. However, the PEFA guidance contains some changes to the application of the 2016 methodology regarding subnational government. Annex 1 provides a summary of both 2018 and 2022 scores and changes in scores based on the May 2022 Guidance for Subnational Government PEFA Assessments, adjusting the 2018 scores where possible. Across the 87 individual subnational-related dimensions compared, there has been an improvement in 9 5 dimensions, 1 deterioration in 1, and no change in the score in 77 dimensions. This overall improvement in scoring has been from a relatively high baseline achieved in 2018.
18. The comparison of the assessments indicates that the following dimensions have changed:
Strategic Allocation of Resources
• Improvement - introduction of KPIs. PI-8.1 and PI-8.2
• Improved budget calendar PI-17.1
• Improved used of economic analysis in investment PI-11.1
• Improved recording of nonfinancial assets PI-12.2
• Improved system for monitoring of arrears PI-22.2
• Improved procurement complaints procedures PI-24.4
• Improved coverage of financial reports PI-29.1 and PI-29.3
19. Deterioration occurred in one dimension on competitive tendering (PI-24.2) which can be explained by the impact of COVID-19 and the response to it by the authorities in Georgia in general, as well as the real term decrease in the threshold.
20. These improvements as well as the continuation of the status quo can be attributed to continued strong management of the PFM reform program in Georgia. The government plans to update the reform program on the basis of the 2022 assessment. The Public Sector Financial Management Reform Action Plan 2018 to 2021 had set out a costed plan with targeted results. It also reflected the continued nature of the reform agenda building upon achievements from previous reform activities across the broad PFM agenda. Nevertheless, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of planned reforms were delayed or cancelled. Due to the state of emergency active in the country from late March 2020 to late May 2020, several economic activities were limited, as priority was placed on the expenditures for healthcare and business support. However, there are a number of reform initiatives that did make progress. For example, as a result of the 2018 PEFA findings, the reform achievements in Public Procurement have been significant. Although the reform in this sector had been evolving steadily, the law on State Procurement recently was modified considerably and made compatible with EU legislation and international good practice. Significant changes have been made with respect to the procurement complaints procedures since the 2018 PEFA assessment highlighted a weakness. There have been actions specifically related to municipalities. In 2019, the equalization transfer system in use was replaced by one based on a value-added tax distribution system. This system directs at least 19% of the value-added tax mobilized in the state budget to the municipal budgets. This revenue becomes municipalities' own revenue, which a municipality uses at its discretion. The requirement that municipality audits were to be scrutinized by Parliament was discontinued in 2020. This responsibility was transferred to the Sakrebulo of the municipality. The audit reports of municipalities are no longer discussed in the Parliament.