Friday, March 19, 2010

Does talking about ownership and capacity makes sense?

An informative piece on the PFM technical assistance provided to Burundi- one of the poorest countries in the world.

A PFM strategy and its corresponding action plan for the period 2009–11, was adopted by the Council of Ministers in May 2009. It has been designed to address PFM weaknesses identified in particular through FAD diagnostic work since 2005, the Public Expenditure Management and Financial Accountability Review (PEMFAR) finalized by the World Bank in February 2008, and a Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment performed by the European Commission (EC) in December 2008....

While promising initiatives have been recently implemented, including the installation of a Steering Committee chaired by the Minister of Finance, and of nine technical groups to implement the PFM reforms, the leadership of the reforms process within the MoF and to coordinate TA provided by donors will need to remain a point of attention....

Because of the slow pace of progress, signs of discouragement (from the experts), de-motivation (from the staff), and impatience (from the donors) are appearing, especially if it is considered that the “easiest” part of the reform has been done—strategy, action plan, laws, and decree in particular—and that the next step being a full and consistent implementation of all the provisions and actions developed in these various documents.

My tentative thoughts on the piece-

-IMF and World Bank needs to run the show, rhetoric of ownership is important, but when there is acute capacity constraints, lets face it, IMF should be the demanding advocate.

-What's an effective central finance agency? Their finance minister needs to have clarity on this important issue.

-PEMFAR of the World Bank appears a decent standard document- on MTEF they recommend Tajkistan approach which may not be the best approach. If any one can provide a link to their PEFA please do so,

-Most importantly we encourage the Fund to write more similar pieces on country case studies.

Managing Public Finance in Burundi- USAID;
The Ministry of Finance currently comprises some 250 employees (not including customs). Its workforce is thin and unmotivated at higher levels (except for some of the top officials), and drifting and underskilled at lower levels. The general erosion of staff and skills in the Burundi government, not only because of the conflict but because of the much higher compensation offered in Rwanda more recently as well, is well known and has affected the Ministry of Finance as much as the rest of the government. Issues of capacity building in the Ministry of Finance are thus no different than systemic capacity building and civil service issues in general.

Burundi, Economic Reform and Financial Transparency Assessment Program (2005-2006)

The Greeks of Burundi

EU Relations with Burundi

Burundi- Country Statistics

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