Under the programme of work with Middle East and North African countries (MENA), the first meeting of the OECD-MENA Senior Budget Officials network was held in Cairo, Egypt, 24-25 November 2008. The meeting was hosted by the Government of Egypt and chaired by Mr Hany Dimian, Deputy Minister of Finance, Egypt, and co-chaired by Mr Daniel Bergvall, Ministry of Finance, Sweden.
Monday, 24 November 2008:
After a welcome by Egyptian and OECD authorities on the occasion of this initial meeting of the MENA-SBO, delegates gave short presentations of their key ongoing reforms and their challenges in the present crisis.
The topic for the first session was "Comprehensive budget reform: lessons from the French experience".
The transformation of France's budgetary systems is the most comprehensive and ambitious one observed in recent decades. The speaker, Mr Frank Mordacq (Comptroller General, Ministry of Finance, France), played a pivotal role in its multi-year implementation.
- Presentation by Mr Frank Mordacq: "If I had to do it again": Surprises, constraints and achievements in comprehensive budget reform.
- Discussant: Professor Mohamed Karim, Université Mohammed V, Souissi, Morocco.
The next three sessions were devoted to implementing performance budgeting, this subject being the top priority selected by MENA-SBO delegates. The most recent research findings from OECD country experiences were presented by practitioners. Discussants from MENA countries then presented how their present and past experiences and their techniques and plans resemble or differ from the OECD ones. In explaining how and why their implementation of performance budgeting adjusts to national conditions, they launched the full floor discussions.
Session 2: Sequencing and pacing of performance budgeting implementation: the links between performance management and budgeting.
In what order and sequences are different components of performance budgeting introduced? Why? What needs to be changed along the way? What are the main challenges and constraints? How is it possible to link the budget's overall targets and its resource allocation to performance information and management?
- Speaker: Mr Bruce Stacey, Executive Director, Results Based Management Directorate, Treasury Board Secretariat, Canada: Building blocks for adopting performance budgeting in Canada
- Discussant: Professor Lobna Abd El Latif, Head, Department of Economics, Cairo University, Egypt
Session 3: Sequencing and pacing in developing and using performance information and new information systems.
How and when to link programmes and organisational structures to performance information? What types of performance information are developed and in what order? To which ends? How and how fast are global systems rolled out? Should performance information be included in budget documents? How, when and for whom? Should targets be set for programmes? At what moment in the process? What is a realistic number of targets? Who should decide that?
- Speaker: Mr Pål Ulla, Director, Ministry of Finance, Norway: Performance elements in the budget and reporting process – Norway
- Discussant: Mr Mansoor Ali Albashiry, General Director, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, Yemen
Tuesday, 25 November 2008:
Session 4: Linking performance information and medium-term expenditure frameworks (MTEFs): limits and challenges.
Designing, explaining and collecting performance information require great efforts, everywhere. It is especially so when the necessary MTEF frames have to be implemented at the same time. Is the performance information that is collected and disseminated useful? To whom: budget offices, political deciders, parliaments? To reach which ends? Once the system is in place or partly so, how is it possible to modify it at reasonable costs? When and how should this be done?
- Speaker: Mr Daniel Bergvall, Ministry of Finance, Sweden: Medium term expenditure frameworks and performance budgeting – the Swedish experience
- Discussant: Mr Lamine Moulahi, Director, Ministry of Finance, Tunisia
Session 5: Price increases for subsidised commodities: avenues for managing their budgetary consequences.
- Dr Hamzah Jaradat, Ministry of Finance, Jordan: Managing balanced policy changes to avoid a budgetary crisis caused by oil and food subsidies
- Dr Randy Ewell, World Bank: The potential for hedging and similar strategies in facing up to large price increases in commodities
Session 6: MENA-SBO work programme for the next year:
- Implementation reviews: Delegates had previously favoured this option over more traditional SBO "country reviews". Volunteers? Desired format and depth?
- Priorities for activities and themes.
Regional Senior Budget Officials network for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)