Saturday, January 24, 2009

The state of GFS in Malawi

The accuracy and reliability of the data are affected by inadequate source data. A key shortcoming in this area is inadequate system of recording source data. In addition, there are serious quality problems, including data inconsistencies, that complicate program monitoring:

• While tax revenue data are received in a timely fashion, it is not always possible to reconcile them with deposits in the Malawi Government (MG) Account.

Nontax revenue, including capital revenues collected by line ministries are not properly accounted for in the fiscal reports prepared by the Ministry of Finance.

• Data on recurrent expenditure suffer from serious shortcomings partly related to insufficient bank reconciliation between expenses records prepared by line ministries and financing information prepared by the Ministry of Finance. Line ministries submit spending reports to the Ministry of Finance based on recorded expenses, while the Ministry of Finances estimates expenses based on funding data (from the Credit Ceiling Authority). At times, there are sizable discrepancies between these two sources of data for both wages and other recurrent transactions—to some extent reflecting the widespread practice of reallocation across budget lines.

• Domestically financed development expenditure estimates are based on funding released to line ministries, and estimates on externally funded expenditure are based on reported project grants and loans. Owing to differences in timing and financing modalities (e.g., some donors require prefinancing of expenditure before reimbursement), there are substantial differences between the flow of expenses and corresponding financing data. Thus, there are substantial errors in the reporting of capital spending. In addition, many donor projects are still not incorporated in the budget, and hence the corresponding expenditure is not captured in government finance statistics. Some externally funded development expenditures are likely recurrent and reported capital expenditure therefore overstated.

Data on expenditure arrears are likely incomplete, as reporting from the Commitment Control System appears to be only partial, and ministry level data are not consistent from report to report.

• The budget classification and chart of accounts may be adequate for some administrative, economic, functional and program classifications. An output-oriented activities-based budget classification (ABB) is used for the presentation of the budget. However, pro-poor expenditures that have been protected in line with the PRSP are only identified in the ABB classification. As no bridge table exists to map the ABB classification into the program classification used for expenditure reporting and accounting, pro-poor expenditures cannot be monitored.

• Financing estimates are based on monetary and debt data, rather than on government records of financing. Reporting on treasury bills directly issued to the RBM at times has been slow.

8. The authorities have received significant technical assistance from the Fund and other donors to strengthen expenditure monitoring and reporting, accounting, and statistical reporting, but results have lagged. The government has pledged to strengthen public financial management and fiscal reporting, and renewed efforts are being made to establish a work plan, including utilizing donor technical assistance more effectively.

9. Government finance data are not reported for publication in the Government Finance Statistics Yearbook (GFSY) or the International Financial Statistics (IFS). An August 2005 and August 2007 STA mission that visited Lilongwe reiterated the importance of continued efforts to implement the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), and encouraged the authorities to improve the coverage and sectorization of government financial operations and to correctly classify transactions according to international guidelines. The mission proposed, and discussed with the authorities, a migration plan and timetable to adopt the GFSM 2001 methodology.

-Malawi: Request for a One-Year Exogenous Shocks Facility Arrangement - Staf Report

Malawi Ministry of Finance
Report on MTEF process

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