The Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) held its 2020 General Stewards Meeting online from 24 to 28 August 2020. During the five-day meeting, topics included innovative digital tools, assessments and evaluations, public participation, tax justice, modernisation of financial management systems, gender-responsive financial management, fiscal openness in COVID-19, and having an Open Response + Open Recovery through OGP National Action Plans.
CABRI, as a GIFT Steward, led the session on information systems in PFM, sharing insight into our focus areas including: (i) capabilities to capture, analyse, present and use data, without which information systems become simply an expensive architectural shell without potential to improve expenditure control, oversight or decision making; (ii) challenges that emerge when expanding the institutional coverage of an FMIS to ministries, departments and agencies, sub-national government and state-owned enterprises; (iii) the viability of transversal systems in lieu of full integration; (iv) the extent to which FMIS can support efficiency, effectiveness, and equity in governments’ responses to crises, such as COVID-19; and (v) locally developed solutions for locally identified information sharing constraints.
Our panel comprised Francois Bekpon (Ingénieur génie logiciel, Spécialiste en Système d'information de gestion des finances publiques, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Benin), Samuel Omenka (Technical Advisor to the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Nigeria), Gustavo Merino (Director: IT Department, Ministry of Economy, Argentina), Placide Mukwende (IFMIS Coordinator: Ministry of Finance, Rwanda) and Nana Minta (Head: Budget Technical Assistance and Support Unit, Ministry of Finance, Ghana).
Nana Minta (Ghana) reflected on existing data capabilities and gaps amongst the GIFMIS users, the effectiveness of capacity building programmes in Ghana, and the Budget Implementation and Status Monitoring System (BISMS) developed by his team during CABRI’s Building PF Capabilities programme in 2019. Placide Mukwende (Rwanda) provided insight into the data capabilities amongst various users of IFMIS, Rwanda’s approach to capacity building, streamlining and digitalising payment processes during the pandemic, and the increasing importance of big data and artificial intelligence in Rwanda. Francois Bekpon (Benin) shared lessons learnt in rolling out two information systems to ministries, departments and agencies and plans to introduce a standardised financial management information system to municipalities. Samuel Omenka (Nigeria) shared challenges in extending the institutional coverage of the GIFMIS to state-owned enterprises and provided insight into how the GIFMIS supports the new Open Treasury Portal. Gustavo Merino (Argentina) shared how the country’s information system has assisted maintaining treasury operations during the COVID-19 crisis when social distancing was in place and the need to disburse funds to spending agencies was greater than ever.
CABRI will continue collaborating closely with GIFT in improving the quality of public financial data, information systems, state-owned enterprises fiscal reporting, and transparency and accountability more broadly.