International webinar on Public Financial Management in the 21st Century: "Harnessing Data for Better Policy Making".
Access February 24th, 2021 Global Launch Recording
On February 24, 2021 the PEFA Secretariat hosted the fourth International webinar on Public Financial Management in the 21st Century: "Harnessing Data for Better Policy Making” with focus on Asia and Africa.
The webinar began with the launch of the inaugural version of the Global Report of Public Financial Management
The Chair of the Webinar - Rachel Turner, Director, Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, UK, opened the event:
“Development partners have supported PFM efforts for decades now. The report tells us a rather stark story: progress has been made on PFM systems, but some very important questions still remain about how best to achieve concrete and lasting progress. What has been achieved and what not – what does success feels like? Are shocks an excuse for bad performance or are systems shock resilient? Are development partners helping or a part of the problem?
PFM reform is about technical knowledge, skills and systems – but perhaps even more about incentives, politics and behavior.”
More than 200 experts were interested in the event and to learn more about the PEFA Initiative and the launch of the 2020 Global Report on PFM. Some insights from the panelists:
Nim Dorji, Finance Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Bhutan presented the experience in Bhutan: “PFM is a core of all development work in Bhutan, having a long history on PFM. PEFA assessment enabled a structured reform program; identified where we were not following best practices. As a result, laws guiding PFM were established and traditional procurement replaced with electronic procurement systems; activity - based budget changed into a multiyear system. If the reforms are not supported by human resource capacity and reliable systems on place there could be failures. During COVID-19, we have been able to reach out people across the country through the electronic payment systems to provide relief funds. PFM reform is a continuous process. ”
Pinaki Chakraborty, Director, National National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, MOF, India explained that: “In India, PFM reform has been a mix of institutional reforms and use of modern technology. Intergovernmental relations play a crucial role. Fiscal responsibility act brought transparency on state level fiscal management. Establishing transfer system from the central to state level is well established. Now is needed more focus on the Third tier: local governments, getting more responsibility in service delivery. Understanding downside fiscal risks that will increase during COVID-19 is important, when support demands increase but revenues contract. A lot of reprioritization is necessary.”
Ed Olowo-Okere, Global Director, Governance Global Practice, WB highlighted that The Global Report :“shows that debt management systems are broadly in place, but it is critical the debt information itself needs to be more robust, credible, timely and comprehensive. What that system is producing is the key challenge. We can rely on the debt information in the private sector – but governments are not complying with the same international accounting standards, IPSAS. We need a balance sheet approach to accounting – which is not possible without accrual accounting system. But there are challenges of IPSAS implementation in our client countries and regulation – but we can address these challenges.”
Mark Miller, Director, Overseas Development Institute
explained the importance of PFM: “Decision-makers understand how important is PFM and do not need convincing. Development partners recognize that capable state is fundamental to supporting development and PFM is essential part of it. Civil servants often struggle to make the case on PFM to their ministers and tax payers. It is easier to sell the idea of providing money, vaccines or school buildings than is to strengthening all processes. Therefore, DP are keen to link PFM and development outcomes, like gender, equity, climate change, service delivery” and “If we invest, we need to see improvements - The Global report shows PFM is important, but difficult to change. PEFA is useful tool for DP to measure and track progress. But at the same time, it highlights that change is difficult to make and takes a long time. It helps countries to be able to design programs that respond to their own priorities. This raises important questions around prioritization.”
Håkon Mundal, Senior Advisor, Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation and Member of PEFA Steering Committee concluded:
“Tackling PFM bottlenecks in service delivery is very important – but it has proven difficult to evidence what are the PFM measures that can drive improvements in service delivery. Reason for that is PFM alone is not necessary – reform is complex and broader and public sector management also matters. The link between PFM and service delivery is worth exploring more. Despite focus on service delivery, strengthening budget cycle still critical to achieve aggregate fiscal discipline, controls and oversight. We need the whole perspective. Development partners bring solutions from own countries that are not always realistic and advocate best fit solutions. Any reform process needs clear leadership from Government itself. Development partners need to focus on process, not only on solutions! We need to step back – and move to a more facilitative role.”
For those interested in the discussions and conclusions of the Virtual Event on February 24th the Video Recording is available and could be accessed below:
For additional questions and information contact PEFA Secretariat at: firstname.lastname@example.org