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PFM coordination Meeting

The Ministry of Finance convened the first PFM Coordination meeting among units within the Government that deals with PFM-related activities last 25 May 2017 at the Auditorium of the MoF Tower. In attendance are representatives from the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (UPMA) under the Office of the Prime Minister, and work units of the Ministry of Finance, namely the Directorate General for Treasury (DGT), Integrated Management Information Systems Unit (IFMISU), National Directorate for Economic Policy (NDEP) under the DG for State Finance, Human Resources Unit (HRU), the Public Financial Management Capacity Building Center (PFMCBC) and the Planning, Budgeting and Performance Evaluation Office (PBPEO).

The PFM Coordination meeting was convened to acquaint all those involved in the PFM work on the various PFM related initiatives that are being pursued, including their status. In addition, part of the agenda of the meeting is to discuss and agree on how coordination should proceed, including how to involve PFM oversight bodies and non-state actors into the process.

In his opening remarks, Hon. Helder Lopes, Vice- Minister of Finance, who chaired the meeting, expressed that coordination is extremely important at the technical level. Vice-Mister Lopes reiterated that the purpose of the PFM meeting is to discuss coordination work on Government PFM which needs to be harmonized, and for all parties to be clear on their respective functions and competence in accordance with the law.

Vice-Minister Lopes also urged the group not to be pre-occupied in terms of labels such as the term, PFM working group. That point was highlighted in relation to a resolution approved by the Council of Ministers (CoM) in 7 March 2017 adopting the Budgetary Governance roadmap and its implementation through a PFM Working Group.

“We are not here to duplicate our work and in the process, waste our limited resources. By convening this PFM Coordination meeting, we are aware of the establishment of the PFM WG under the Office of the Prime Minister in relation to the Budgetary Governance roadmap. However, I would like us also to be reminded that under the VI Constitutional Government, the mandate of the Ministry of Finance as defined by Decree Law 38/2015 of 7 October, includes the coordination of policies in the areas of annual monitoring of budget and finance, through the sound management of public finance. Similarly, the MoF is also in charge of providing training in the area of PFM for the staff of all relevant State services and bodies through the Public Financial Management Capacity Building Center (PFMCBC).”

Vice-Minister Lopes continued on by saying that a lot has been done in terms of the Government’s PFM reforms thus, there is a need to set the ground for good cooperation and communication between and among all concerned for the sake of efficiency and transparency. Vice-Minister Lopes also reminded the participants on their responsibility to deliver the PFM results that the Government expects from everyone.

The PFM Coordination meeting was also envisioned to be used as a platform for information sharing as well as to re-contextualize the different PFM reform initiatives, whether on-going or planned. Similarly, MoF envisaged that the PFM Coordination meeting shall continue as a forum to better coordinate the Government’s PFM-related work; regularize interactions and strengthen communication between and among all concerned, including the possible involvement of other oversight bodies as well as non-state actors into the process.

The PFM Coordination meeting went on with presentations from UPMA and the DG for Treasury. UPMA’s presentation dealt in part on the progress of the implementation of program budgeting and shared the budgetary governance road, a document prepared by OECD and which was approved (adopted) by the Council of Ministers (CoM) on 7 March 2017. UPMA also shared to the participants a copy of the Despacho no. 076/2017/V/PM which details the work and composition of a PFM Working Group.

On the other hand, the DG Treasury’s first presentation touched on the Chart of Account (CoA) and the IPSAS Cash Basis. Treasury stated that the Ministry of Finance needs to review the CoA system, which currently relies too heavily on FreeBalance, and make it more flexible. In regards to the IPSAS Cash Basis, Treasury discussed IPSAS Cash and argued for a longer timeframe to move towards accrual accounting, starting with developing its in-house capacity. A second presentation gave an update on the Decentralization process. It reported that all PFM functions had been decentralized to all Autonomous Agencies (AA) in January 2016, and Expense Voucher approval function, Advance Payment and Acquittal Report functions had more recently been decentralized to all LM and AA in January 2017. DG Treasury team has been providing on-the-job trainings, technical supports and assistance to all autonomous Agencies and LM to support this process.

Due to time constraints, the meeting had to adjourn and all agreed to reconvene in June, at a date that will be determined by the PBPEO in consultation with the Executive Office of the Minister and the Vice-Minister. The next meeting will see the presentations from IFMISU, NDEP, HRU, Fiscal Reform secretariat and the PFMCBC.

PBPEO was tasked to send out the formal notice of the re-convening to all concerned. Prior to this, PBPEO was also tasked to share the minutes of the first meeting, for everyone’s review and feedback.

For further inquiries on the first PFM Coordination meeting, please contact the PBPEO, at pbpeo@mof.gov.tl