Under the work programme with Middle East and North African countries (MENA), the third meeting of the OECD-MENA Senior Budget Officials network was hosted by the authorities of the United Arab Emirates and was held in Dubai on 31 October and 1 November 2010.
The meeting was chaired by Mr. Bader Ahmed Al Qayed, Director of the Public Audit Department and Vice-Chairman of the State Finance Committee, Ministry of Finance, Qatar. The co-chairs of the meeting were Mr. Saeed Rashed Alyateem, Executive Director of Budget and Revenue, Ministry of Finance, United Arab Emirates, Mr. Mårten Blix, Director of the Budget Department, Ministry of Finance, Sweden and Mr. Gerhard Steger, Director-General of Budget, Ministry of Finance, Austria and Chairman of the OECD working Party of Senior Budget Officials.
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Welcome address by His Excellency Younis Haji ALKHOORI, General Manager, Ministry of Finance, United Arab Emirates.
Roundtable on Responding to the Crisis - One Year Later:
The agenda of last year’s MENA-SBO meeting was dominated by the financial and economic crisis. The discussion revealed the great diversity in how the crisis manifested itself in individual countries as well as the range of policy responses being adopted.
This session has been designed for delegates to provide updates – one-year later – on developments in their respective countries in terms of the response to the crisis and the status of exit strategies.
The session was opened with two overview presentations – one focused on the European Union and the other on the MENA region. This has been followed by substantial time for exchanges and debates among delegates. Three countries opened the roundtable.
Implementing Medium-Term Expenditure Frameworks:
Medium-term expenditure frameworks (MTEFs) are the cornerstone of well functioning budget processes. They provide baseline projections of government expenditures, most often for three years beyond the budget. As such, they are the foundation for the annual budget process and can serve to reinforce credibility in the government’s fiscal stewardship. They are however complex in operation and there are many examples of unsuccessful MTEFs.
This session offer insights for the launch of MTEFs from two different points of view. The first speaker drew on the experience of OECD countries and outlined key success factors for their implementation. The second speaker presented information from the very recent and on-going launch of the MTEF initiative in Abu Dhabi. Following their presentations, the floor was opened for questions and comments by all delegates.
Long-Term Budget Projections:
Long-term budget projections provide a basis to discuss the sustainability of current public policies by qualifying and quantifying the impact of public policies with long-term fiscal consequences, as well as the impacts of demographic and other exogenous changes on selected summary indicators. Such projections have been considered best practice for budget/fiscal transparency for nearly a decade, yet their use is still limited to a relatively small number of OECD countries.
The first speaker highlighted what this effort entails and its consequences for budget institutions, even in the countries most advanced in this area. The second speaker discussed the relevancy of these techniques for the MENA region, in particular for those heavily dependant on the export of hydrocarbons, and what adjustments to the general approach – if any – may be appropriate. Following their presentations, the floor was opened for questions and comments by all delegates.
Monday, 1 November 2010
Budgetary Co-ordination across Levels of Government:
The issues surrounding the euro earlier this year brought forward the question of budgetary co-ordination between governments using the same currency. Similar issues exist within countries, especially federal ones where subnational entities enjoy substantial fiscal autonomy. Even in some unitary countries, recent decentralisation has led to concerns about national fiscal coordination and how to achieve it. Fiscal federalism issues are not new but they raise especially relevant challenges now.
The speakers presented two examples of substantially different arrangements in two federal countries whose subnational government budgets are large relative to the national government’s and where they enjoy very substantial spending and taxing autonomy. Following their presentations, the floor was opened for questions and comments by all delegates.
Gender budgeting is a relatively recent form of analysis in budgeting. It highlights the share of the budget that benefits men and women, respectively. It is usually seen as part of a larger policy setting of pursuing greater gender equality. This session will focus on the technique for gender budget analysis.
The first speaker presented the experience of Austria in implementing gender budgeting. He highlighted the working methods for doing such analysis as well as outline how it is presented and used. The second speaker offered an overview of a recent survey of gender budgeting practices carried out in 24 countries, describing the extent and nature of initiatives taken in those countries. Following their presentations, the floor was opened for questions and comments by all delegates.
Country presentation: Performance Budgeting in the United Arab Emirates
Performance budgeting is the most important common thread of reform within the MENA region. Virtually all countries have been pursuing major efforts in the field, some for extended periods of time. Following Morocco’s in-depth presentation at the Cairo MENA-SBO, this year’s presentation focused on the experiences of the United Arab Emirates with performance budgeting. It is envisaged that such country presentations will become a regular feature of MENA-SBO meetings. The objective is to promote the sharing of experiences among countries – the approaches taken, the results obtained and the lessons learned.
The presentation was made by a team from the Ministry of Finance, UAE. Following their presentations, the floor was opened for questions and comments by all delegates.
MENA SBO: Organisational matters and future work:
This session discussed organisational issues for the MENA-SBO, including the selection of a new chairman and financing issues. It is also been an opportunity for delegates to identify emerging priority areas for future work, the nature of their interest in the subject and their willingness to participate in particular studies.