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GIFT Newsletter #40

Do your internal financial management systems limit or impede your fiscal transparency dreams?

Join us for the discussion on how to implement a modular approach to information systems and achieve better transparency!
The International Monetary Fund has recently published a How to Note on “
How to Design a Financial Management Information System - A Modular Approach”, which provides a cross-country analysis of the challenges in transforming FMIS into practical tools of fiscal governance. This webinar will address the findings and practical advice provided by this paper, which will be discussed with the perspectives of implementing in different country contexts of Latin America and Africa.

Share with your IT departments!
Join us! - September 10 at 10 am EDT
How is New Zealand’s Ministry of Finance engaging directly with the public?
August 19
There is considerable interest amongst officials in national ministries of finance in how they can directly engage the public in the design and implementation of fiscal policies. In this interesting blog post, Murray Petrie analyzes how New Zealand’s Ministry of Finance engages with the public, to get a better understanding of the range of public engagements recently completed or underway, and to explore with the responsible managers/senior analysts how the Treasury managed them.
Public Finance for SDGs: A Technical Webinar Series Now Online!

Thank you for joining us this August in the webinar series on Public Finance for SDGs! You can now see all the videos and download the presentations here. Don’t forget to share it with your team!

We are thankful to the presenters who shared with us their time and knowledge and hope to keep the discussion going.

Transparency and Corruption Are Not Always What They Appear to Be
by Albert Van Zyl and Dustin Kramer from International Budget Partnership
July 12
Luminate recently posted a blog on their new financial transparency strategy, Ory Okolloh bases the reflections on informed disenchantment” and “scandal fatigue” as a growing problem in which citizens are becoming disillusioned about the benefits of increased transparency. 
The authors in
this blog entry posted by the International Budget Partnership highlight that the lack of accountability is only part of the reason for disenchantment. In fact, a lack of specified or targeted transparency deepens disinterest; and digging into a finer level of transparency can inspire people to seek deeper transparency and accountability. Likewise, a singular focus on corruption as the primary cause of service delivery or government performance problems can obscure some of the other causes that could be dealt with differently.
Fiscal Transparency Report
The United States, Department of State
August 15
As directed by the Congress of the United States, the Fiscal Transparency Report of the State Department evaluates data on the fiscal transparency collected by their posts in 141 countries (those that could receive U.S. foreign assistance) against minimum requirements and publishes the results on the Department’s website annually. For countries to meet minimum requirements, governments must make key budget documents publicly available within a reasonable period of time.  They must be substantially complete and generally reliable.

The report for 2019 has been published and can be consulted
New Open Budget platform
August 28
The Chile Budget General Directorate, DIPRES, a GIFT steward, published on August 28 a new platform with the complete national budget and expenditures in open data. We are thrilled about this long-expected news, which puts Chile alongside many GIFT stewards in the frontline of countries pushing the fiscal transparency agenda, ensuring more accessibility and timely disclosure of information for users. In this case, a special mention deserves our steward Observatorio del Gasto Fiscal en Chile, a civil society organization, for the always friendly and well-informed support that they put on this great achievement.
Congratulations Chile!
Quito, Ecuador
August 29-30th

Condatos is the leading annual conference in Latin America and the Caribbean that brings together actors from different sectors, such as the public sector, academia, private companies, civil society, and citizens, to participate in conferences, panel discussions and work sessions on issues related to open data ecosystem and open government. From GIFT we are participating in the discussions and panels, so be sure to reach out to us! In particular, GIFT will be part of the discussion on fiscal transparency and inclusiveness.

Hackathon on Improving Costa Rica’s Social Program Payment System
International Monetary Fund and Ministry of Finance of Costa Rica
July 29-30
Currently, the Treasury of Costa Rica disperses the money for social programs to the private banks who are then in charge of transferring the money to the final beneficiaries. This could be done more efficiently through direct transfers through the central bank payments system. For two days, developers and web designers along with mentors, including Lorena Rivero from GIFT, gathered in San Jose to ideate and develop innovative solutions for two challenges: 1) improve the Treasury’s social programs payments system and 2) ideate forms of e-wallets that can allow remote communities with limited access to banking facilities and technologies to make daily transactions.
We want to congratulate the winning teams that proposed:

The team developed a framework based on microservices that connects from the Treasury system to the Central Bank and validates against the beneficiary registry. Because of the microservices approach, it is scalable and flexible. Furthermore, the prototype already considered the security certifications to enable the connections among these precise systems. This allows complete traceability of the whole transaction, enabling better transparency.

The team developed a back-end that connects to the Treasury´s system through web services and notifies the beneficiaries when they have received a payment. Regarding the user experience, it allows performing transactions through a WhatsApp chatbot (since it is the most used platform in the country). The proposal reduces the need for cash transactions and traditional banking.
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