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Laura Doherty and Amanda Sayegh
Spending reviews refer to the process of conducting in-depth assessments of existing public expenditure in order to identify opportunities to reduce or redirect spending from low-priority, inefficient, or ineffective spending. They offer a systemic approach to ensuring that spending is aligned with the government’s policy priorities, is effective in achieving its intended objectives and is deployed efficiently. This How to Note outlines the various objectives of spending reviews and provides guidance on designing a spending review process, including the organizational architecture and roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders. It also discusses the various stages of con¬ducting spending reviews and mechanisms for integrat¬ing their outcomes into the budget process. This note draws on lessons and experiences from countries that have established spending reviews, while recognizing that this is an emerging area for further reform.
Fazeer Sheik Rahim, Mr. Claude P Wendling, and Ms. Eliko Pedastsaar
Expenditure baseline projections (hereafter, “base¬lines”) are a key analytical concept in budget preparation that refers to estimates of future expenditure on the assumption that current policies remain unchanged. They serve as reference points against which other data, such as proposed or approved budgets, or expenditure ceilings, can be compared. In many countries they are a basic tool for starting the preparation of the budget. They represent neither future spending allocations nor total expected outturn as they do not incorporate estimates of the cost of new policies and the expected impact of saving measures. Other features of baselines are that they are generally produced over a multiyear period, they can be calcu¬lated at any level or form of the budget classification (that is, ministries, economic classification, specific policies, functions or programs), and can be summed up to higher levels (such as the whole budget). Hence, they can be useful at both a micro and an aggregate level. This note aims to clarify and establish a framework that covers baselines’ various purposes and uses. It first discusses the definition and objectives of baselines and the methodology used for producing them before outlining how they should be prepared. It concludes with a discussion of the key success factors for making the most effective use of baselines.
Sailendra Pattanayak, Racheeda Boukezia, Yasemin Hurcan, and Ramon Hurtado
Fiscal institutional capacity in most fragile states (FS) and several low-income developing countries (LIDCs) is much lower than in other countries. Governments in these countries face several cash management challenges because they often lack credible budgets, have smaller and less diversified revenue bases, have limited access to financial markets, and rely largely on donors to fund a large portion of their budgets. Available public funds in these countries often remain dispersed outside the control of the ministry of finance. In the absence of a good cash forecasting function, these countries typically resort to cash rationing to meet their priority spending needs, often in an ad hoc manner, which can adversely affect budget execution and achievement of fiscal policy targets. This note sets out the key objectives and building blocks of a cash management function in FS and LIDCs. It suggests several measures to progressively build cash management capacity in three interrelated areas: consolidating cash resources, forecasting cash flows, and managing cash balances with sound institutional setups.
Mr. Alberto Behar and Sandile Hlatshwayo
This note explains the value of strategic foresight and provides implementation advice based on the IMF’s experience with scenario planning and policy gaming. Section II provides an overview of strategic foresight and some of its tools. Scenario planning and policy gaming have been the Fund’s main foresight techniques so far, though other tools have been complementary. Accordingly, section III focuses on the scenario planning by illustrating applications before detailing the methods we have been using, while section IV describes policy gaming including the matrix policy gaming approach with which we have experimented so far. Section V summarizes the key points. In so doing, the note extends an invitation to those in the economics and finance fields (e.g., researchers, policymakers) to incorporate strategic foresight in their analysis and decision making.
Patrick Petit, Mario Mansour, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
Fighting the obesity epidemic has so far proven a difficult challenge, given the diversity of natural and processed foods, the complexity of food supply chains, and the fact that targeting excessive caloric consumption is far trickier than reducing overall consumption (as for tobacco). Nevertheless, efforts to curb caloric intake are gearing up and the experience from tobacco control has drawn much attention on a potential role for excise taxes in fighting obesity. Many related questions have therefore been raised as part of the IMF’s capacity development work: Should excises on unhealthy food be used to fight obesity? If so, under what conditions? What are the product and market characteristics that would help identify the relevant tax bases and the rates at which to tax them? While acknowledging that the scientific evidence keeps evolving, this note summarizes the ongoing debate and practice on food excises and on their potential role as a policy tool to fight the obesity epidemic, with a view to assist policymakers in deciding whether to go forward, and if so, how.How to Apply Excise Taxes to Fight Obesity
Ms. Anja Baum, Mr. Paulo A Medas, Alberto Soler, and Mouhamadou Sy
The size and operation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) can imply significant risks for governments. SOEs are present in virtually every country in the world and are major players in domestic economies and in global markets. In some countries, they number in the thousands and are owned by national or subnational governments. SOEs are among the largest corporations in some advanced economies and comprise a third or more of the largest firms in several emerging markets. Many operate with systematic losses and carry significant liabilities. If SOEs face adverse shocks and financial distress they can impact the government budget or balance sheet through numerous transmission channels. This How to Note describes a newly developed SOE risk assessment tool to help country authorities and IMF country teams. The analysis can provide inputs for annual budgets and medium-term fiscal planning. This includes providing estimates of possible transfers to and from SOEs to the budget and possible financing needs. The note outlines the main steps and elements of the template to assess fiscal risks for governments from individual SOEs. The first step is to collect financial information on SOEs and their relation to the government budget, and to provide a benchmark against other SOEs in similar sectors. A second step is to do a forward-looking analysis based on baseline forecasts and stress scenarios, to identify and analyze possible risks and their impact on government accounts.