This blog is a summary of the remarks made by the Chairman of the CABRI Management Committee during a parallel event held by CABRI on the 27th of May at the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank, in Marrakech, Morocco.
Over the last decade, Mali has made considerable progress in the area of transparency. This blog covers three important points of the progress made in fiscal transparency. The three points are as follows: (1) Budget preparation and implementation; (2) Access to budget information; and (3) Transparency, financial oversight, auditing and assessment of the Public Financial Management (PFM) system.
As regards the preparation and implementation of the budget, the areas of progress are as follows:
A national workshop launching the preparation of the budget always marks the beginning of the budgetary preparation process with the participation of all the governmental and non-governmental actors as well as the technical and financial partners. Hence, the engagement of civil society in the budget preparation has increased its role in decisions concerning public policies.
The budget orientation debate has taken place on a regular basis over the last two years with the participation of the National Assembly Committee on Finance. The goal however, is to hold a plenary session with all the National Assembly Committees. This exercise would give the Committees a better grasp of the subject and a chance to express their opinions regarding the fiscal policy stance in the medium-term.
The program budget is being prepared since 1998 in an effort to improve the budget orientation debate, so as to highlight the consistency of the budget with the development strategies and to focus on sector indicators. At present, it is appended to the Finance Act, but, due to the changeover in the directives of the WAEMU on the harmonized Public Financial Management Framework, it will become a Finance Act as from 2017.
The MTBF was set up in 2002 to improve the quality of budget estimates and create a medium-term vision of fiscal policy. The ministerial MTEFs have been generalized in order to enhance performance based budgeting and the program budget for the greater clarity and credibility of the budget.
Computerisation is based on a reliable Budget Information System thanks to the adaptation of expenditure, revenue and accounting chain software, which enhances interconnectivity in order to facilitate accountability and generate reliable, real time budget information.
The budget implementation is based on the separation of the authorising officers and the accountants in order to enhance transparency and to empower each actor in the expenditure chain.
The budgeting system in Mali is characterised by the extensive devolution of the authorising officers’ powers. Each Department, institution and Public institution is its own authorising officer.
The reform of the Public procurement system was implemented through the adoption of a new code that led to changes in the institutional framework with the introduction of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, whose role is to enhance transparency and provide recourse for service providers who wish to challenge procurement decisions.
Progress in the area of access to budget information is evinced by the following initiatives:
The presentation of the initial Finance Bill to the National Assembly accompanied by numerous supporting/accompanying annexes (and in particular the publication of tax exemptions and fiscal derogations).
The budget, called the citizens’ budget and translated into 12 national languages is published in order to facilitate public access to budget information and to promote the budget orientation debate.
The publication of the Annual Debt Strategy document, the Mali Government Debt Statistical Bulletin, the Public Procurement Plans and the Governmental Audit Reports.
Furthermore, the regular and timely production of budgetary, financial and accounting information posted on the website of the Ministry of Finance and other websites of departments under the Ministry of Finance.
In 2012, the Open Budget Survey of the International Budget Partnership (IBP) evaluated the availability to the public of eight key budget documents in each of the assessed countries including Mali, as well as the comprehensiveness of the information provided in these documents. This study also evaluated how efficient the control exerted by the legislative bodies and the Supreme Audit Institutions was, as well as the opportunities afforded to the public to engage in the national decision-making procedures. According to the results of this survey, Mali scored 43 out of 100 on the Open Budget Index. This score indicates that Mali does provide the public with a moderate amount of information in its budget documents. In spite of this fairly low score; Mali is ranked as the first country among the French-speaking countries in terms of budget openness and accessibility of information to the public.
Finally, in regard to the transparency, oversight, auditing and evaluation of the Public Financial Management (PFM) system, the following initiatives are noteworthy:
The creation of the Office of the Auditor General whose mandate is to monitor the management of public funds over the entire national territory.
The implementation of a strategy for the clearance by the Accounts section, of public accounting officers’ management accounts.
The implementation of the National Internal Audit Strategy which aims to enhance effectiveness and efficiency in the use of public resources and to strengthen public confidence in public administrations and regional or local authorities.
The ex-ante financial control of public expenditure that was enhanced by the on-going decentralisation. Indeed, the creation of new Financial Oversight Committees, in addition to the Regional Directorates, has improved the ex-ante audit coverage of public expenditure.
The PEFA I assessment conducted in 2006 and the PEFA II assessment conducted in 2010, with a 3rd PEFA assessment scheduled for 2013/2014.
In conclusion, the government intends to make better use of the audit reports, especially the reports of the Office of the Auditor General, in order to step up the fight against corruption and to improve governance with a view to achieving greater accountability to the general public as regards the use of public funds. The government is therefore considering the enactment of a Law on illicit enrichment in order to guarantee the proper use of public funds. Furthermore, the government has recently passed a Law on the Code of Transparency in Public Financial Management with a view to improving the transparency and financial governance of the Budget in Mali.
Sidiki Traore, Budget Officer, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mali