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GIFT Newsletter #41

Transparency and Gender Responsive Budgets for Better Outcomes - a workshop organized by the IMF
Pretoria, South Africa
September 23-27

Representatives of Ministries of Finance of 13 countries of southern Africa met to explore the progress and challenges in fiscal transparency and in gender budgeting. The workshop, organized by AFRITAC south, the regional technical assistance center of the International Monetary Fund, helped each country to detect opportunities and define steps forward, while learning from each other.
Among the greatest challenges regarding Gender Responsive Budgeting are: the confusion around the concept of gender; disconnection between planning and budget processes; mainstreaming gender responsiveness further than gender-specific programs or actions; identifying and building adequate indicators; lack of data disaggregated by gender to inform decision-making and commitment for implementation.
GIFT Manager for Technical Collaboration was part of the team providing technical assistance regarding general fiscal transparency and focalized to Sustainable Development Goals and gender budgeting practices, bringing to the discussion international experiences and in particular, the one from Mexico.
The budget data analysis that evidenced significant reductions in food policies for children in Argentina

ACIJ (Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia)

As a result of the Better Budget Dataquest in Argentina (held in March 2019), one of the teams followed up its investigation to find out how the Mother and Child Care Program of the Ministry of Health delivers fortified milk powder. This research demonstrates the importance of having clear, disaggregated and accessible information to monitor the performance of public policies aimed at basic rights, and how important it is for governments to explain, and be responsible for, budgetary deviations.

ACIJ inspiring story is here.

How should we assess tax spillovers?
City, University of London
September 5

Tax spillovers refer to the impact one country’s tax practices and rules have on other countries, and also to the impact one tax within a jurisdiction might have on another tax in the same country. There is basic information about tax systems. GIFT was part of a workshop that gathered experts, campaigners and politicians, on tax spillover assessments, organized on behalf of Oxfam; The Tax Justice Network; City, University of London; Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, University of Sheffield and Wiley, the publishers of Global Policy, with support from European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The workshop included the presentation of a research paper by Richard Murphy (University of London) and Andrew Baker (Sheffield University), that can be consulted here.

A declaration was issued as a result of the workshop.

Civil society in Latin America continues its work on tax expenditures
Bogota, Colombia
September 17

Across Latin America, tax expenditures are reducing government revenues by between 10 and 20 percent, but adequate information on their objectives, beneficiaries, and the ultimate impact is lacking. What are the prospects for civil society trying to influence tax expenditures?

The Latin America Tax Expenditure Research, Advocacy, and Learning (#ProyectoLATERAL), lead by the International Budget Partnership and ten civil society partners, has undertaken analyses comparing tax expenditure policies and practices across the region, examining the impact of these policies and practices on inequality.

The #ProyectoLATERAL met in Bogota to find ways to improve the discussion in civil society and elevate the debate with governments about tax expenditures. As many organization are also GIFT Stewards (IBP, ICEFI, ACIJ, INESC, FUNDAR) and partners (Grupo Faro, Fundación Solidaridad, DeJusticia) and we are working on tax transparency from a civil society perspective with the World Bank, GIFT was part of the meeting.

Africa must increase transparency to ease debt stress
Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI)
September 20
In consultation with African debt management offices, CABRI (a GIFT steward) has presented the Africa Debt Monitor (ADM). The ADM is an interesting online tool that provides quantitative and qualitative information on the debt metrics of 20 African countries, which account for 48% of the continent’s total public debt and 50% of its GDP. It provides a unique platform for sharing information on African central government debt and debt-management policies, practices and institutional arrangements.
The tool includes (i) individual country debt profiles; (ii) cross-country comparison of debt management practices and procedures; (iii) individual country data tables; (iv) the Debt data explorer; and (v) ADM Analysis reports. We highly recommend consulting it
How Does the World Bank Build Citizen Engagement Commitments into Project Design?
Rachel Nadelman, Ha Le and Anjali Sah
Institute of Development Studies
How and to what degree is the World Bank putting its new institutional citizen engagement (CE) commitments into practice? This question guides an independent assessment that the Accountability Research Center (ARC) at American University has undertaken as part of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS)-led Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) research programme’s investigation into how external actors can best support local processes of and conditions for empowerment and accountability. This report investigates the World Bank’s incorporation of CE into project design, the critical early stage of donor engagement. This assessment of CE commitments is intended to help to inform possible national, civil society organization strategies to monitor whether and how these commitments are actually implemented in practice.

Consult in depth case study reports on Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Pakistan
How Participatory Reforms Can Enable Voice But Fall Short Of Transformation
Joy Aceron, G-Watch and Accountability Research Center
April 2019
Reforming the budget process to be more open and participatory to civil society and citizens has become a popular approach around the world. This trend represents great potential for democratic transformation, especially in countries where the allocation of public resources has long been left in the hands of a few. However, attempts to undertake such reforms in the Philippines have had mixed results. The Philippine experience with Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB) offers valuable insights into the pitfalls that must be avoided for participatory reforms to be transformative.
Read the complete working paper
Keeping Financing for Development Promises: What is Budget Credibility and How Can it Help? 
SDG Action Zone during the High-Level Week
September 26
Watch this interactive session that took place at the SDG Action Zone during the High-Level Week, which explores the role of budget credibility in helping countries deliver services efficiently and achieve better results.
No Pain, No Gain in strategic planning: An open letter to my organization in 2040
Warren Krafchik
September 20
So, you’re thinking of embarking on a strategic planning process. A little over 20 years ago, I had this same thought and took IBP down a rather bumpy road. It turned out well in the end, but I do advise that you think very carefully before starting a new process.
Strategic planning is difficult, costly, and generates a lot of uncertainty. It can be fun, but it must also be uncomfortable.
Read the whole article.
(Extract from the original publication)
Smart Citizenship Academy 2019
NOVA School of Business and Economics, Cascais, Portugal
October 15 to 18th

The Municipality of Cascais and the New School of Business and Economics in Portugal will hold, for the second consecutive year, the Smart Citizenship Academy, a space for reflection, debate and co-creation on more intense ways of living democracy and citizen participation. GIFT is excited to participate in the organization of some workshops and discussions there.

Follow us on Twitter @FiscalTrans where we will be sharing insights from the event from Cascais.

In case you missed it!
Good Internal Systems for Good FiscalTransparency
September 10
This webinar addressed the findings and practical advice provided by the How to Note on “How to Design a Financial Management Information System - A Modular Approach”. The presenters and participants shared a rich conversation on how to improve internal systems and facilitate the process through higher flexibility in the system development approach.
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