Newsletter 60 – Apr 2021

Our Work Our Community Interesting Reads

Capacity Development Talk during the IMF Spring meetings: COVID-19 Spending Transparency through Digital Platforms
Fiscal Openness Accelerator Updates from the Fiield
April 6, 2021
As part of the capacity development events taking place within the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring meetings, and alongside experts from the Hondurian government and IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, GIFT Network Director Juan Pablo Guerrero shared key insights on fiscal transparency portals from the comparative perspective and stressed the importance of fiscal transparency for informed public engagement. He also cited evidence on the benefits of transparency, such as helping public officials better understand how they perform and deliver public mandates, how to coordinate and work better together, and how it can lead to higher tax collection and eventually improved development outcomes.

You can stream the video recording of the meeting here, and download GIFT’s presentation here.

Fiscal Openness Accelerator updates from the field
April 8, 2021
Facilitated by the GIFT and International Budget Partnership (IBP), FOA Countries have reconvened in a virtual meeting last April 8, 2021. Based on recent updates provided during the meeting, we are glad to share that our five pilot FOA countries are making strides forward in the design and implementation of public participation pilots in different phases of the budget cycle.

After GIFT and IBP provided feedback and recommendations on the improvement of the design and and development process for Benin’s selected public participation mechanism, new meetings are set to discuss ways forward and lessons in using mobile technology to enhance public participation.

Despite challenges posed by restrictions on in-person gatherings due to COVID-1 and intermittent internet connectivity, Liberia has made progress to establish the country’s FOA advisory group composed of members from government and civil society. The Ministry of Finance in Liberia has drafted a term of reference, and currently in the process of consultation within the ministry towards the group’s formalization.

In Nigeria, members of their FOA advisory group has already developed and discussed options for public participation mechanisms and a timeline for the selection and implementation of the mechanism. In the coming months, GIFT and IBP will provide technical assistance and support the advisory group in narrowing down the options so that a mechanism can be selected.

Despite delays due to COVID-19 related disruptions in Senegal, the project has also made headway in establishing its advisory group at the country level. The civil society members of the advisory group were selected, and the government invited CSOs to provide feedback on the group’s terms of reference and the FOA project in general.

South Africa
After deciding on the Pre-Budget Hearings as its pilot public participation mechanism, the South Africa FOA Advisory Group is now in the process of conducting outreach and consultation activities to obtain the buy-in and endorsement of relevant officials and sectors within the National Treasury for the initiative. In May 2021, there is a planned internal consultation meeting within the Treasury to discuss strategies to best integrate the pre-budget hearings and consultations into South Africa’s national budget process and calendar.

You can know more about this GIFT flagship project here.

#FiscalData User-engagement initiatives striving forward: Mexico #RallyFromHome and Dataquest winners announced and the Philippines just launched!
Mexico #RallyFromHome #Dataquest for Sustainable Development’s results are in!

After launching in March within the context of Open Data Day, GIFT stewards CIEP, and the Mexican Ministry of Finance (MoF), got to the finish line of their combined #RallyFromHome and #Dataquest for Sustainable Development campaign. Three great teams emerged with monetary and in-kind prizes, as well as an opportunity to present their projects to the Mexico Legislature floor. However, all teams are considered winners as they were able to participate in a mentorship program that provided one- on-one guidance and capacity-building sessions with stellar national and international experts in the fiscal transparency field.

The top team presented an in depth analysis on a program that provides education infrastructure to marginalized schools, while the second place provided policy proposals for residue disposal, and the team who placed third focused on research about child care services and subsidies at the federal level. Indeed, the depth and quality of the work by participants was very impressive all and all. Congratulations to all!

The MoF, through their Fiscal Transparency Portal team, developed a website to showcase accomplishments from this great effort, including information on the rules, process, mentorship opportunities and awarding ceremony. The initiative was done through a multi-stakeholder alliance with the United Nationsl Development Programme, GIZ and Social Tic.
Philippines launches the #BetterBudgetDataquest: Integrating Transparency in Gender and Development

The Freedom of Information Project Management Office of the Philippines recently launched a call-to-action activity entitled, “#BetterBudgetDataquest: Integrating Transparency in Gender and Development,” which aims to encourage the public to rally for the disclosure and analysis of allocations under the Gender and Development (GAD) budgets of national government agencies and local government units.

Through this initiative, data champions, advocates, and regular citizens alike, are given a platform to gain new insights on how the government utilizes their GAD budgets, and come up with innovative ideas to improve its disclosure, and in the long run, enhance GAD budget allocations and its execution.

Participants must register through this link on or before May 7, 2021. We look forward to meaningful inputs and analyses from this Dataquest!

GIFT joins expert panel on Open Budget: State policy and ideology of civil participation
April 8, 2021
GIFT’s Knowledge, Technical Assistance, and Cooperation Coordinator Aura Martínez recently joined an expert panel convened by the Participation Budgeting Center of the Russian Financial Research Institute, where she shared examples and highlighted the core considerations of public participation in fiscal policy, including the publication of information in an accessible format, providing clarity on the rules of engagement, reaching out and listening to marginalized sectors and voices, emphasizing the value and relevance of the public participation process, and ensuring that public participation complements what government institutions are already doing. The activity also featured the progress and amazing work done by many subnational governments in terms of participatory budgeting.

You can watch the recording of the meeting here, and access GIFT’s presentation here.

GIFT participates in the 20th session of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration
April 14, 2021
GIFT participated in 20th session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration with the theme of Building inclusive, effective and resilient institutions for sustainable recovery from the coronavirus disease pandemic and timely implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (E/C.16/2021/2). The session was livestreamed via UN Web TV last April 14, 2021.

The said UN Committee is responsible for supporting the work of ECOSOC concerning the promotion and development of public administration and governance among member states, notably in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in support of the implementation and progress reviews of the SDGs.

Serving as a resource person in the session, GIFT’s Technical, Knowledge and Cooperation Coordinator Aura Martinez presented circumstances that local governments face when incorporating the #SDG agenda to their budgets.

The recording of the meeting in the UN Web TV channel can be viewed here, and GIFT’s presentation can be accessed here.

Deep Dive on Budgets and #FiscalOpenness for the Open Government Partnership Local initiative
April 28, 2021
Within the framework of OGP’s Local Government initiative capacity building efforts for governments and civil society representatives that are drafting their first Local Action Plans, GIFT and IBP hosted two deep dive sessions,on budgets and fiscal openness in English and Spanish. The sessions featured GIFT’s High-Level Principles on Fiscal Transparency and Principles of Public Participation in Fiscal Policies, as well as examples of implementation. The discussions were further enriched by distinguished speakers from the Ministry of Finance of Georgia and Integrity Watch Afghanistan in the English session, and from the Ministry of Finance of Colombia and Asociación Civil para la Justicia Fiscal (ACIJ) from Argentina in the Spanish one.

The joint GIFT-IBP presentation are published in English and Spanish.

SDG 16 Conference: Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Engagement During and Beyond the Pandemic Addressing corruption during and after COVID-19
April 29, 2021
Alongside a distinguished panel comprised by the Republic of Chile’s Comptroller General Mr. Jorge Bermúdez Soto, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Chief of Research and Trend Analysis Branch, Ms. Angela Me, and World Bank’s Governance Global Practice Director, GIFT Network Director Juan Pablo Guerrero joined the SDG-16 Conference’s Parallel Session 2.2 themed Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Engagement During and Beyond the Pandemic Addressing corruption during and after COVID-19 held last April 29, 2021.

He shared insights on the main challenges to sustaining fiscal transparency and how national accountability systems in a post-pandemic world can benefit from insights gained during the pandemic in terms of changing dynamics among stakeholders and the opening of new opportunities for collaboration.

Find the session’s video recording here and GIFT’s related blogpost here.


IBP to present global scorecard of accountability in managing COVID-19 funds
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, governments around the world have committed a staggering $14 trillion in new spending to address the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. Related to this, IBP’s Open Budget Survey team is set to present the results of its rapid assessment of the transparency and accountability of emergency fiscal policy packages with partners in 120 countries in an event entitled Managing COVID Funds: A Global Scorecard of Accountability.

Join the #OpenBudgets community in a virtual discussion as IBP share their findings and facilitate a global conversation on transparency, citizen engagement, and accountability in emergency spending.

Don’t miss the event on May 24th, register here.

Call for conference papers for the Public Sector Economics 2021 Conference: Does fiscal openness pay off?
The Institute of Public Finance (IPF) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), supported by the Croatian Science Foundation are organizing a call for the submission of papers to be presented in the Public Sector Economics (PSE) 2021 Conference themed Does fiscal openness pay off? The political and socio-economic effects of transparency, participation and accountability. Building on the outputs of the PSE 2018 conference on fiscal openness and the IPF’s Croatian Science Foundation-funded projects on local government budget transparency (OLBI) and its impacts, this year’s conference will center on the political and socio-economic effects of transparency, participation and accountability.

Access more information on the call for papers here.

Call for papers: World Bank’s 3rd Annual Tax Research Conference
The 3rd World Bank Tax Conference, scheduled from September 30 to October 1, will be bringing together leading researchers and policy makers to discuss recent research on new tax instruments, including carbon taxes and other environmental taxes, taxes on the digital economy, and novel sin taxes such as taxes on carbonated drinks. In preparation for this, World Bank is inviting researchers at academic and policy institutions to submit a paper or an extended abstract to [email protected] (subject “WB Tax Conference”) by June 15, 2021. They are seeking both empirical and theoretical submissions and are particularly interested in featuring research with relevance for low- and middle-income countries.

Find out more information about the event and call for submission of papers here.

OGP launches Open Renewal campaign
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) has launched its new campaign called Open Renewal, a global call-to-action for all OGP members in 2021 to use their new and existing action plans to make ambitious commitments that address core development challenges. This includes issues around anti-corruption, civic space and participation, and digital governance where they can share their expertise and experience.

Check out more information about this effort here.

Open Budget School: An approach to budget literacy in Costa Rica
In this blogpost, GIFT civil society steward, Innovaap, showcases the work that they do in their Open Budget School, a learning space that allows citizens in general to deepen their understanding of Costa Rica’s budget cycle.

Read the article in English and Spanish.
The need to “double mainstream” gender and climate in public finance
This article by Dr. Sandra Guzmán, Tanjir Hossain, Delaine McCullough, Sejal Patel, Liane Schalatek, and Paul Steel, introduces and sums up the Climate Finance Group for Latin America and the Caribbean’s forthcoming work on how public finance systems are taking on gender inequality and climate change concerns, with a closer look at Mexico and Bangladesh.
Building Resilient Health Financing in the Wake of COVID-19: Case Studies of Subnational Health Budgeting in Kenya
Given the urgency in responding to Covid-19 in the short-term and the goals of meeting SDG 3 on ensuring healthy lives and achieving fiscal self-reliance in the long-term, how can Kenya best finance its recovery from the pandemic and improve its health outcomes? This is the key question that this report intended to address by examining effective pre-pandemic health budgeting and PFM practices at the subnational level.