Friday, September 12, 2008

Indonesia: Progress in Fiscal Institution Building

Recommended reading- Indonesia: Selected Issues, chapter IV;

Progress has been made in strengthening technical capacity at the central government level. Within the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) is now fully operational with a mandate for macro-fiscal projections and analysis, including assessments of fiscal risks. The FPO now prepares fiscal risk statements that are included in the annual budget documents—making Indonesia one of the pioneers in fiscal risk analysis among emerging market economies. Operational management of debt-related risks is undertaken by the Directorate General (DG) for Debt Management, which is responsible for both domestic and external debt management.

Despite some progress, parliament’s technical capacity for fiscal policy analysis is still limited. Parliament’s (DPR) budget committee plays an important role in the budget approval processes, though with excessive emphasis on details which are usually seen as being within the province of the executive (such as close scrutiny of macroeconomic assumptions and detailed review of expenditure items—as opposed to scrutiny at a more aggregated level found in other countries). In contrast with this wide ranging mandate, the DPR had limited qualified technical staff and few with specializations. Some improvement in these areas has been achieved through: (1) increasing the number of technical staff; and (2) greater specialization of staff through the establishment of specific parliament commissions (e.g., the economic commission). These commissions are now able to provide some analytical and technical support to members of parliament, though the DPR’s effectiveness in budget scrutiny and oversight is still inadequate. Intense involvement of the DPR at the pre-budget presentation stages remains (6–7 months before the new fiscal year), but there is only limited focus on medium-term budget issues and on the results of policies embedded in the annual budget. The 2003 State Finances Act calls for an unusually early date for approval by parliament of the annual budget law (2 months before the new fiscal year); nonetheless, DPR committees continue to be involved in budget approval after the annual budget law has been adopted in plenary session. The DPR’s follow-up on the external audits of the Supreme Audit Institution (BKP) remains weak.

Progress has been made in improving the quality of government accounts, but is still incomplete. The adoption of government cash management regulations in July 2007 was an important step in improving the transparency of government banking arrangements. The regulations strengthen the Minister of Finance’s powers to consolidate government bank accounts. On this basis, the MoF conducted a census of government bank accounts operated by ministries and budget users outside treasury control. The ensuing ministry-by-ministry analysis of accounts revealed that over 20,000 government accounts existed. Some of these off-budget bank accounts have either been closed or integrated with the treasury. This was a sizeable step towards establishing an operational treasury single account (TSA). However, there are still a few impediments to the establishment of a TSA. In particular, government deposits held at Bank Indonesia (BI) are poorly remunerated, which impedes the development of active cash management (since the opportunity cost of idle government deposits is small). Transparency also improved following the incorporation of the regional development and investment accounts into financial reports and budget documents. Progress in integrating the operation of other extrabudgetary funds in the budget has been limited

The disclosure of fiscal information to the public has improved significantly.
Several recent amendments to ministerial decrees should help improve fiscal data quality and transparency. In particular, the chart of accounts now requires that the budget, in-year fiscal reports, and annual financial statements use the same terminology, which should simplify budget monitoring. The publication of a comprehensive fiscal risk statement accompanying the annual budget document significantly improves the transparency of fiscal policies and associated risks. In this context, improved reporting of information by SOEs should enable the FPO’s risk management unit to better assess risks for selected key SOEs. The reporting of information on central government debt is now comprehensive and timely, and key contingent liabilities are also disclosed in the annual fiscal risk statement (including those related to public-private partnerships). However, little progress has been made on reporting general government debt (though local government debt remains negligible), and debt accumulated by public enterprises.

Early progress has been achieved in strengthening internal and external audit bodies and in fighting corruption among public officials. The BPK mandate has been strengthened by the adoption of a 2006 law (and associated decrees in 2007). BPK staff headcount has been significantly increased (currently 6,000 staff covering 28 provinces) and training has been improved in both the IG and BPK, though needs remain significant. However, both the MoF’s IG and BPK are experiencing difficulties in accessing taxpayers data needed to investigate potential misconduct of tax officials owing to taxpayers privacy concerns, even though the law provides both institutions such access. Memorandum of understandings between the MoF and the internal and external auditors to address this issue are under discussion. Finally, the role of the Financial and Development Supervisory Agency (BPKP) as an internal audit body has not been reviewed—BPKP is part of the president’s office and has jurisdiction on central government finances. However, it shares internal audit responsibilities related to ministries with the IG, with an unclear distinction between their mandates.

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