On the 9th and 10th of September, the Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria and the Gambia came together to share the work they have been undertaking as part of the Building Public Finance Capabilities Programme. This Mid-Term Review allowed country-teams to share and reflect on the progress of the teams in tackling the nominated problems and allow peers to exchange ideas that could lead to faster progress over the upcoming months. Former programme participants were invited to form part of a panel of discussants that reviewed the work of the teams and provided feedback on the progress and ideas on way forward.
The review highlighted that countries were able to make significant progress in implementing the actions they had set for themselves, despite the difficult context that the pandemic poses to reform processes.
Teams were able to meet various stakeholders, further their understanding of the problem and obtain buy-in to propose a set of solutions going forward.
It also highlighted the importance of undertaking a thorough diagnosis of the root causes of the problems, not just at a technical level but also the capabilities, incentives and motivations of various stakeholders, to ensure that proposed solutions are viable, implementable and achieve functional improvements to PFM processes. This will be critical for the work of the teams going forward.
Some of the key actions the teams have undertaken are summarised in the table below:
|Country||Problem statement||Key actions and how they related to the entry points (cause and problem)|
|Central African Republic||The resources mobilised by public offices (special accounts, funds and agencies) and transferred to the CUT are much lower than expected”||• The team started consultations with key public offices to collect further data and understand why they’ve been resistant to the new treasury consolidation and transfer requirements, starting with the reporting procedures.|
|• The consultations with public offices led the team to (re)examine and consider additional issues deemed important to treasury reforms, namely the lack of communication and diffusion around the reform.|
|• Further, the issue of the delays of transfers to public offices further exacerbates the problem for public offices who don’t have the resources to carry out their activities in due time without those transfers.|
|• The discussions allowed the team to build acceptance around the need for reform whilst also deepen their knowledge on the key issues at play that they now considering in their next steps.|
|Guinea||The resources mobilised by public offices (special accounts, funds and agencies) and transferred to the CUT are much lower than expected”Priority projects in social sectors (health, education and social affairs) are not budgeted for”||• The team started analysing the list of all priority projects in the public investment programme, to understand if there are consistency issues between the inclusion of projects in education, health and social sectors and the national development plan.|
|• They also reviewed the various yearly budget guidelines to understand the shift in priority for the funding of investment projects.|
|• The team identified that (i) there are infringements into the budget process with multiple guidelines and differences between projects approved during budget conferences and projects that appear in the finance law, and (ii) various key stakeholders involved in structuring investment projects are not included in the discussions regarding the national investment plan and the public investment programme (PIP), which creates asymmetric information and mismatch in planned priority projects (in the PNDES) and executed projects in the PIP.|
|Mali||Students from school canteens don’t all benefit from meals from resources transferred to local administrations for school nutrition”||• The Mali team was officially created and authorized with a mandate to solve the school canteen financing problem|
|• The team identified and forget alliances with municipalities that were able to properly implement their canteen financing budgets in order to learn from their practices. These aim to better understand, share and diffuse their approach with other municipalities at an upcoming seminar.|
|• The team also engaged with civil society organizations to raise awareness on the issues and agreed to sharing financial information with them in order to facilitate the monitoring of the implementation of school canteen programmes.|
|Nigeria||Insufficient tracking or releases and utilisation of funds to delivery units has hampered accountability and efficiency service delivery. Trillions of Naira of scarce resources have been sunk in funding projects which are often delayed and sometimes abandoned with little results.||• The team updated data on abandoned projects and shared a circular to MDAs in order to present the nature and extent of the problem and consequences of weak expenditure tracking.|
|• A core part of the work of the team relates to the quality of reporting from MDA, for which there are no formal mechanisms for training and capacity building. Preparations are underway to organize a pilot training for MDAs and the inclusion of a recurrent training on budget monitoring and reporting as part of the annual cycle of capacity building.|
|• The team also engaged with MDAs on reporting issues as part of the recent budget bilateral. They learned that the problem also lies with MDAs facing little scrutiny when including (too many) projects annually, for which the budget is spread budget too thin.|
|The Gambia||Inefficient procurement procedures result in the procurement of fraudulent practices poor quality goods and services a delay in programme implementation leading to loss of resources that could support priority sectors such as healthcare and education||• The team collected data on procurement procedures, specifically the increasing use of single sourcing and unsubstantiated payments and collected qualitative evidence on issues within the procurement cycle. They used this to get authorisation and acceptance for the problem and determine their approach.|
|• They consulted with the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) and found that not all MDA’s send their procurement plans to GPPA, that there are no punitive measures in GPPA Act for MDAs that fail to submit their procurement plans and that PPA does not have any formalized capacity building framework for procurement. These learnings will guide the team’s work going forward.|
|• Understanding that their ability on certain entry points was limited, the team on boarded the Director of the Procurement Directorate as a 7th member of the team. This will improve the team’s legitimacy and ability to tackle the problem identified.|
|Ghana||Lack of alignment between budget allotments, cash plans and payments resulting in additional costs for government projects, build-up of arrears and delays in implementation of programmes||• The team gathered data and held consultations with the respective Heads and Departments at the Ministry on the problem. They subsequently revised their assumption on the root causes of the issues especially with regards to issues related to access to GIFMIS, which are not as prevalent as they thought.|
|• The team decided to narrow the focus of their work to ensure they are able to have a higher impact during the program period which will focus on issues of capacity building as well as communication with MDA which was identified as a key concerns.|
|• Going forward the team will undertake a gap analysis in the capacity of MDA and develop a cash management manual. They will also work on improving communication with MDA, potentially through liaisons desk/officers.|