Basel III Finalization: Revised Approaches to Measure Risk-weighted Assets (Amman, Nov 4-7)
Twenty-five bank supervisors from 11 METAC member countries attended this workshop, which provided a forum to exchange views and share country, regional, and international experience on the implementation of the Basel Committee international standards on banking supervision. The workshop focused on how to improve the ability of supervisors to better evaluate banks’ capital adequacy with in-depth presentations and case studies on the revised approaches to measure credit risk, market risk and operational risk. A survey about the implementation of the Basel standards was sent to all the participants before the workshop. The participants presented their countries’ experiences and highlighted aspects related to (i) reform project organization, monitoring and governance, (ii) implementation scope, (iii) implementation challenges, (iv) how proportionality has been considered, and (v) perceived benefits. A METAC Regional Note, will be soon published on the results of the workshop, and lessons learned.
Public Financial Management
Strengthening Public Financial Management in the Middle East and North Africa: Lessons Learnt from Recent Initiatives, Medium-term Outlook, and the Role of Analytical Tools (Jul 7-9)
METAC and IMF Fiscal Affairs Department, the International Budget Partnership (IBP), and the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) Secretariat concluded a regional a workshop on “strengthening public financial management (PFM) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): lessons learnt from recent initiatives, medium-term outlook, and the role of analytical tools”. Delegations from 10 countries (Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia), along with representatives from the European Commission, UK’s Department for International Development, Canada, USAID, and civil society organizations, gathered in Amman to work together to: (1) better understand the impact of the political, social, and economic transformation over the last 10 years on PFM systems in the MENA; (2) share experiences of using key tools available to define and support the development of more resilient and inclusive PFM systems; (3) identify challenges and opportunities, and related capacity development needs. Mr. Xavier Rame, METAC PFM Advisor, concluded the workshop by highlighting that, overall and despite noteworthy progress in some countries, the alignment with international standards and practices for resource allocation, budget implementation, and accountability remains too often limited in the MENA region. In a context of limited fiscal space and heightened social expectations, fiscal institutions should be further strengthened to effectively support the design of sustainable policies, shed light on the full cost of public policy choices, enhance accountability, and address populations’ needs – especially the most vulnerable. Following the workshop, and in a first-ever PEFA regional learning event in the MENA delivered in English, French and Arabic, Mr. Rame participated in a two-day training session led by the PEFA Secretariat, which gathered 71 participants from 14 countries and development partners from the MENA region.
Strengthening Budget Institutions (Oct 22-24)
METAC and the CEF delivered a course on budget institutions, at the CEF offices in Kuwait. Thirty-three participants from 14 countries attended the course. Key sessions included budgeting, cash management, public investment management, and fiscal risks management. Participants shared experiences and views on how to improve on these issues in their countries, in a challenging regional context.
Medium-term Budget Planning: Methods and Tools (Kuwait, Dec 16-19)
This workshop, joint with the IMF Middle East Center for Economics and Finance (CEF), brought together 32 policymakers and senior staff from Ministries of Finance of 14 Arab-League countries (eight were METAC countries) of different income levels and budget institutional arrangements. The workshop highlighted the relevance of medium-term budgeting for modern public finance management, including: key features of a medium-term budget framework; the role of medium-term fiscal frameworks and fiscal rules; forward costing; and institutional underpinnings. The training included a mix of lectures, individual and group work, as well as peer assistance.
Tax Expenditures in the Middle East and North Africa: Current Practice and Way Forward (Rabat, Dec 3-4)
The workshop, held jointly with the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, was attended by 23 participants from 9 METAC members. It evaluated current practices of reporting on tax expenditures in the MENA region, and discussed recent international trends. Only one METAC country publishes an analytical report on tax expenditures, which broadly follows international practice; another country includes a summary table of tax expenditure estimates in its annual budget. Nearly all countries reported that they face significant tax compliance risks associated with the provision of tax incentives and discussed possible mitigation measures for the riskiest. Participants agreed that the practice of publishing an analytical report on tax expenditures will significantly improve fiscal transparency and the policy debates on domestic revenue mobilization and the cost-effectiveness of tax incentives.
Supply, Use, and Input-Output Tables (Kuwait, Jan 12-16)
Organized jointly with the CEF, this workshop was attended by 34 participants from 15 countries (12 METAC). It covered international standards and best practices in producing benchmark GDP estimates through the compilation of supply, use, and input-output tables. It facilitated peer-to-peer discussions of countries’ practices, challenges and solutions, and included a substantial practical component.
CIAT Technical Conference (Marrakech, Morocco, Oct 8-10)
The Center Coordinator of METAC, M. Mario Mansour, gave the key note presentation at the annual technical conference of the Inter-American Center of Tax Administrations, which theme was Tax Administration and Development. The conference explored various subjects regarding the role of tax administrations not only as revenue collection agencies, but also as state-building institutions that help define the nature of the relationship between state and citizen. Mr. Mansour emphasized three points: (1) tax administrations should invest more in collecting, organizing and analyzing big data, to improve effectiveness and efficiency in tax compliance and revenue collection, and to provide input for the evaluation and design of tax policies; (2) digitalization is challenging tax policy design and tax administration, and there appears to be a growing “digital gap” between tax administrations in developing and developed countries, with uncertain consequences on tax revenue mobilization in the former group; (3) countries should pay more attention to the interaction of tax policy and tax administration, and take a longer-term view on how to coordinate them.
Round Table on Recent Development in International Taxation (Clermont-Ferrand, France, Oct 14-15)
M. Mario Mansour participated in a round table on recent development in international taxation at the Université d’Auvergne. Discussions covered the approach and policies that France has recently taken to address the taxation of the digital economy, and analysis at the IMF regarding how the international community could address the pressure that globalization has exerted on the corporate income tax, and how the interest of developing countries, including the METAC region, are affected and could benefit from changes to the international tax system.
Fostering Shared Prosperity in Challenging Times (Amman, Nov 3-4)
This event was co-organized with the IMF’s Communication department, to have a dialogue with members of parliaments (MPs) from METAC countries, on regional macroeconomic challenges, and how capacity development can help them better exercise their role as guardians of good policymaking. Key issues discussed included inclusive growth and how women can participate in increasing and improving the quality of growth; the importance of the quality of tax and expenditure policies in creating equal opportunities and reducing income inequality; empirical evidence on how corruption and lack of transparency stifles economic growth and create waste, and exclusion of citizens from receiving their fair share of economic growth. Although a small number of MPs attended the event (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and WBG), they expressed their appreciation of the event, demanded that IMF and METAC be more proactive in their dialogue with parliaments, and inquired about whether METAC can extend its capacity development to parliamentary technical committees.
State Budgeting: Transparency, Fiscal Costs and Gender-Responsiveness (Egypt, Jan 15-16)
Messrs. Mario Mansour and Jonas Frank, respectively METAC Center Coordinator and Public Financial Management Advisor, participated in a joint METAC-ECES (Egyptian Center for Economic Studies) seminar on three key issues in strengthening fiscal management in Egypt: the evaluation of fiscal transparency according to the IMF’s code on the subject; empirical studies on the fiscal cost of corruption and its wider implications; and how METAC countries can improve gender-responsive budgeting. This outreach provided a unique opportunity to bring together players from diverse backgrounds and with diverse roles to play in improving fiscal management in Egypt; they included senior officials from the Ministry of Finance (Macro-Fiscal Department and Transparency and Citizen Engagement Unit), parliamentarians, business and public policy journalists, private sector representatives, and representatives of international cooperation.
National Accounts: Supply and Use Tables (Amman, Nov 12-14)
Mr. Issam Alsammak, Real Sector Statistics Advisor at METAC, participated in a three-day workshop on country experiences and best practices in compiling supply and use tables, and presented the recent work of METAC with Jordan’s statistics agency. The workshop, organized by UNESCWA, was attended by participants from 4 METAC countries (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and West Bank and Gaza) and Qatar. UNESCWA plans to publish a SUT compilation guide in Arabic, partially based on the discussions during the workshop.
The Future of Economic Statistics for the Arab Region (Riyadh, Jan 21-22)
Mr. Issam Alsammak, Real Sector Statistics Advisor at METAC, participated in a high-level seminar on the Future of Economic Statistics for the Arab region, organized by UNESCWA. Participants were from the national statistics agencies of 10 Arab-League countries (seven METAC), the Arab Institute for Training and Research in Statistics, GCC-Stat, and the Islamic Development Bank. The discussions focused on countries’ priorities, which were generally in line with global priorities: measurement of the non-observed economy (on which METAC will soon hold a technical workshop), measurement of the digital economy, more extensive utilization of administrative data sources, compilation of sub-national statistics, and globalization.