Newsletter 59 – Mar 2021

Our Work Our Community Interesting Reads

Making Tax Work: A framework for enhancing tax transparency webinar
March 10, 2021
Through a virtual seminar participated in by tax experts from different international and country-level institutions, we presented the preliminary work of Professors Richard Murphy and Andrew Baker of the University of Sheffield on Making Tax Work: A framework for enhancing tax transparency (draft version).

During their presentation, the authors detailed a range of issues surrounding tax reporting and information standards, and propose a systematic appraisal of tax systems to enable and enhance revenue transparency. The document sets an analytical framework for assessing domestic tax transparency in countries around the world. The framework for enhancing tax transparency will assist the GIFT network in calling for a comprehensive discussion and in producing draft global principles on domestic tax transparency. The framework aims to guide governments in their efforts to disclose information on the revenue side of the fiscal equation, thereby facilitating civil society’s strong participation in informed public debates on tax reform.

The final version of the document, expected to be published in May 2021, will incorporate the main feedback provided by seminar participants, and will include the first version of the tax transparency principles in its conclusion. The GIFT network will then discuss the framework and principles at its next General Stewards Meeting in the summer of 2021.

The minutes of the said meeting can be downloaded here, while the video recording of the session can be streamed via this link.

Going more DIGITAL & SOCIAL: Communications for user-engagement initiatives sessions
March 29, 2021
As part of GIFT‘s work towards advancing user-engagement initiatives worldwide, through the #DataRallyFromHome and the #BetterBudget Dataquest for Sustainable Development, we hosted two sessions that dived deeper into practical communications strategies, tools, and platform-specific examples that will guide countries in setting up and implementing fully virtual user-generated content campaigns. We were very honored to be joined by our partners from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guanajuato (Mexico), Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines and South Africa in these sessions held last March 29.

Access the presentation materials in this link and the video recording of the session here.

Public participation strides forward: Fiscal Openness Accelerator project updates
As we close the first trimester of 2021, our FOA countries keep moving forward.

We are excited to announce that South Africa’ s advisory group (composed of the National Treasury, other government agencies and civil society organizations representatives) has reached a final recommendation and decision to design and implement a pilot public participation mechanism that will be mainstreamed in in the Pre-Budget Hearings of the country’s national budget cycle. The collaborative decision-making process was facilitated by the GIFT and the International Budget Partnership (IBP) through a co-creation workshop earlier in March and a series of brainstorming meetings with the members of the Advisory Group.
We are also proud to share that the advisory group of Benin has endorsed the implementation of their public participation mechanism through the Bousprob tool, a mobile application that aims to provide access to current and previously published key budget documents and provides citizens an opportunity to monitor and engage in the national budget process at the country level. Designed to help achieve participatory and inclusive governance goals, this tool features a budget calendar with automatic alerts, a comprehensive budget document library, and the budget news section.

In the next months ahead, GIFT and IBP look forward to more closely engaging with all FOA countries towards building strong, sustainable and impactful pilot public participation mechanisms.

Mexico launches their first combined #DataRallyFromHome and Dataquest for Sustainable Development
March 06, 2021
To commemorate the 2021 International Open Data Day, Mexico’s Ministry of Finance, in partnership with the Center for Economic and Budgetary Research (CIEP), the local office of the United Nations Development Program, Social Tic, the German Development Cooperation Office (GIZ) and the GIFT network, launched their #BetterBudget Dataquest for Sustainable Development on March 6th.They presented an innovative mix between a data rally with several phases and challenges, and a Dataquest oriented to policy research and innovative policy responses to helping achieve the SDG 2030 Agenda. The recording of the inauguration event with more information on the initiative (in Spanish) can be accessed here.

In addition, a series of topic specific mentorships were offered by all the above-mentioned organizations. You can stream the videos of the said online mentorship activities here.

Costa Rica’s MoF and Innovaap launch second edition of Budget School
February 4, 2021
The General Directorate of National Budget, and the Public Innovation Collaborative Laboratory (Innovaap) and the Open Government Unit in Costa Rica has recently opened the call for applications to the second edition of their Budget School, to be held in virtual mode. Integrating a user-engagement effort in this initiative, the culminating activity this effort shall be the conduct of #BetterBudgetDataquest for Sustainable Development to be held in July 2021. Find out more information here.

UN Women, INTOSAI and IBP host Advancing Women’s Leadership in Public Finance
March 17, 2021
As a virtual side event of the annual gathering of the United Nations Commission on Status of Women, UN Women, the INTOSAI Development Initiative and the International Budget Partnership (IBP) hosted a lively dialogue with civil society, audit institutions, and Ministries of Finance on the barriers women confront in public finance institutions and the steps that need to be taken to enable greater gender parity in leadership of these institutions.

More than 350 people joined the event that examined how to advance women’s leadership with the long-term aim of making public finance institutions drivers of gender equitable outcomes. Clearly, much more remains to be done in terms of promoting gender equality, but this discussion presents an important step forward in this effort.

More information on the event can be found here, while the video recording can be accessed here.

Integrity Action webinar: Sustaining the Impact of Social Accountability Initiatives
March 09, 2021
Integrity Action hosted a webinar that presented their findings on the impact of social accountability initiatives last March 9. Driven by a key question on how citizen-centered accountability systems can be designed so that they have the greatest chance of being sustained, the report is a result of a meticulous research methodology that included a literature scan of over 200 empirical studies, 25 semi-structured interviews and an online brainstorming session with 70 respondents. You can watch the webinar to learn in depth information on their findings here.

How can external audits promote budget credibility? Leveraging the role of supreme audit institutions
March 25, 2021
Exploring the important role of external audits in ensuring that the national budget is credible, the International Budget Partnership in partnership with UNDESA’s Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government hosted a rich discussion of experiences from a diverse panel composed of high-level officials from public audit institutions of Indonesia, Uganda, Georgia, the Philippines, and Jamaica last March 25. During the event, the panelists exchanged insights related to the recent research findings on the understanding of how Supreme Audit Institutions have covered budget credibility issues in their audits, with the aim to address a gap in public finance literature, inform the development of handbook on this topic, and ultimately influence positively the role of SAIs to promote transparency and accountability.

Watch the full webinar here.

The International Centre for Tax and Development hosts Women in Tax: A Conversation on Research and Policy in Africa
March 18, 2021
In celebration of International Women’s Day and alongside the sixty-fifth session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) hosted a webinar on women and taxation in Africa.

The event featured distinguished tax researchers and practitioners who shared their insights on issues including the role of women in shaping tax policy and administration at the national and international levels, the tax knowledge and compliance of African business women, the impact of informal taxes on women across the continent.

Find the video recording of the event here.

World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives
This report by the World Bank explores the tremendous potential of the changing data landscape to improve the lives of poor people, while also acknowledging its potential to open back doors that can harm individuals, businesses, and societies. Read more here.
Public-Sector Productivity (Part 1) : Why Is It Important and How Can We Measure It?

This note by the World Bank is the first of a two-part series that explores the importance of public-sector productivity and its determinants. It also summarizes a review of the literature on different approaches to measuring public-sector productivity. Download it here.
Time to rethink State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) performance trade-offs
This World Bank blog explores issues surrounding the management and performance of State-Owned Enterprise (SOEs) and how it may be one of the most important factors for some economies to come out of the COVID-19 crisis.
Assessing the impact of fiscal transparency on FDI inflows
Authored by faculty members of the University of Naples L’Orientale, University of Naples Parthenope and University of Basilicata in Italy, this paper analyzes the role of fiscal transparency as a determinant of foreign direct investment (FDI) attractiveness and proposes an empirical test based on an analysis of data from 72 countries in a 10-year time span. The full paper is published as part of Socio-Economic Planning Sciences journal’s Volume 73.
Upholding commitments: How supreme audit institutions can strengthen budget credibility through external audits
What are the roles of external audit in determining and ensuring that public budgets are “credible”? Find out answers in this IBP paper that explores how supreme audit institutions approach budget credibility assessments, challenges to leveraging this work of SAIs, and opportunities for strengthening budget credibility through audits.
Giving everyone a fair shot
As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies inequality across the globe, authors of this IMF blog put emphasis on breaking the vicious circle of inequality and providing everyone opportunities for prosperity, through improvements to access to basic public services and strengthening redistributive policies.