ICGFM Promotes Knowledge Transfer Among Public Financial Management Experts
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Sunday, May 24, 2009
Closing Remarks from 23rd Annual ICGFM Conference
ICGFM 23rd Annual Conference on Governmental Financial Management
Country Perspectives on Public Financial Management
During Global Economic Uncertainty
Jim Ebbitt, President
May 22, 2009
On Monday, we began the conference with a discussion of the issues leading to the current economic outlook. Interestingly, while our speakers outlined the severe economic crisis around the world, they also expressed optimism that the world economy would recover. We also learned about a new word coined by David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States, and currently President of the Peter G Peterson Foundation. That word is laggardship, or the opposite of leadership. Mr. Walker indicated that there was too much laggardship and not enough leadership in making the right decisions that impact the world’s economy.
On Monday afternoon, we began a series of discussions on the tactics we can use to address the financial management issues resulting from the economic crisis. We also discussed the budget process and the importance of communicating the budget to citizens in a clear and transparent manner.
On Tuesday, we discussed the role of the news media in Public Financial Management (PFM). We noted the importance of a strong and independent media to bring transparency to the financial crisis, and the impact the crisis is having in general, and the importance of the citizens being informed about the issues.
We also heard from several countries, the Republic of Kosovo, Malawi, and Nigeria, of their responses to the financial Crisis. We discussed the need for making Government more transparent so that citizens are better informed of the economic issues impacting their daily lives. For this perspective, we had reports from Brazil and Uganda.
On Tuesday afternoon, we had a lively discussion on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and how the financial crisis has changed the market for PPPs. One of our speakers presented a view that PPPs were very important in the current financial arena, while the other felt that PPPs were not the best way to go because in the final analysis, government was generally responsible in the end for whatever the project being handled by the PPP was trying to accomplish, and if the PPP was not successful, the government remained responsible.
On Wednesday, we discussed budgeting in a time of crisis, and received a report on the Canadian perspective on an economic stimulus package. And on Wednesday afternoon, there were several special interest sessions for conference participants. One in particular sparked a lot of interest, that being a discussion on establishing a new international organization for Comptrollers General. There was also a demonstration of the “Aid Management Platform” which is a _e-government solution for tracking and reporting on official development assistance.
On Thursday, we discussed the importance of financial management systems and having the necessary technical support for those systems in order to provide strong financial oversight, and provide support for good financial stewardship. We also had two technical sessions on Public Expenditure Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment process. Conference attendees participated in work sessions designed to assess financial accountability using the PEFA assessment process.
On Friday, we continued our discussions with an address by Pamela Bigart, Lead Procurement Specialist of the World Bank, on Public Procurement Reform and Importance in the Current Economic Climate. This excellent discussion on public procurement systems was then followed by a case study of a procurement assessment in Chile.
In summary, I thank all of the conference organizers and those who worked very hard to make this conference a success and all of the conference participants for their participation and observations during the conference. Thank you to all ICGFM members for their participation, invited those who are not yet members to join, and invited all to ICGFM’s Monthly Forum series in Washington D.C. and to the next ICGFM Winter conference in Washington D.C. to be held December 2-4, 2009.