Department of Economic and Social Affairs Public Institutions
Committee of Experts on Public Administration

 

Current work

 

Improving public financial management: In support of the 2023 ECOSOC cycle of work and in preparation for its 22nd session (2023), the CEPA working group will provide policy advice on public financial management in times of emergency and implications for the credibility of budgets. 


Background

 

Effective financing and budgeting processes are crucial preconditions for implementing the SDGs, especially now in the difficult time of worldwide crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges. In the 2030 Agenda, Member States acknowledged the essential role of national parliaments through their enactment of legislation and adoption of budgets and their role in ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of their commitments. In the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development Member States committed to increasing transparency and equal participation in the budgeting process.

 

Over the years, the Committee has explored different aspects of public financial management, including ways to prevent, expose and deal with corruptionbuilding capacities and effectively mobilizing, allocating and managing budgetary resources for the implementation of the 2030 Agendastrengthening fiscal management at national and subnational levels; emerging issues in public financial management and transparent and participatory budgeting. At its 20th session (2021), the Committee discussed ways to integrate the SDGs into national and subnational budgeting and financial management and sustainable public procurement in the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development. At its 21st session (2022), the Committee reiterated that open and inclusive public financial management was essential to ensuring government accountability and legitimacy. Political will was a crucial factor, paired with sufficient public sector capacities, resources and incentives. Embedding the SDGs in budgets, for example through budget tagging, could accelerate their achievement. Fiscal sustainability, oversight and budget credibility should be enhanced, and off-budget spending reduced. Those matters should be studied more closely. Expanded efforts to develop and adopt international norms and standards on managing fiscal stimulus packages and fiscal policy in times of crisis could also be valuable.


Recent CEPA observations and insights

 

Effective, transparent and participatory budgeting processes are required to implement the SDGs, especially considering that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented increase in public spending. Approaches to embedding the SDGs in national and subnational budgets vary, with some countries linking their budgets to all SDGs and others just to a few of them. Countries are also concentrating on different focus areas, such as budget planning and formulation, execution and the whole budget cycle. Some countries focus on central government budgets, while others include State-owned enterprises, subnational governments and social security entities. (CEPA 21st session, 2022)

 

There is a need to strengthen the linkages between planning and budgeting processes. Embedding budgeting into policy coherence approaches could help to advance budget transparency and participatory approaches, which is particularly challenging but relevant given current economic and fiscal constraints, with refocused policy priorities and difficult policy trade-offs. (CEPA 21st session, 2022)

 

The strengthening of finance and financial management capacities of local governments could enable them to transform their budgets into results that are part of a participatory effort to define local priorities in a strategic territorial plan. Building competent public fiscal management capacity at the national and local levels, together with adequate oversight capacity, is highly recommended. (CEPA 21st session, 2022)

 

While budget transparency remains insufficient in many countries, the basis for implementing it already exists in most governments and could be upgraded for the purpose of budget tracking for the SDGs through all budgetary stages, considering local challenges, needs and lessons learned. (CEPA 21st session, 2022)

 

The application of participatory budgeting, particularly at subnational level, is recommended to involve citizens in infrastructure development and service delivery, while allowing some flexibility regarding the usage of funds. The sustainability of participatory budgeting processes needs to be considered and their success is linked to the interface between political and administrative levels of government and the building of legitimacy. (CEPA 21st session, 2022) 

 


What action does ECOSOC recommend?

 

ECOSOC encourages Governments, especially in view of stronger budget pressures, to accelerate action to increase transparency and equal participation in and oversight of the budgeting process, establish transparent public procurement frameworks as a strategic tool to reinforce sustainable development and curb corrupt practices, and to embed commitments to the Goals in budgetary and financial processes at the national and subnational levels by adopting practices to monitor and report on the use of public financial resources in support of the Goals, such as reorganizing budgets, based on programmes and activities, and mapping and tracking budgetary contributions to each Goal (ECOSOC resolution 2022/9, para. 11). 

 

ECOSOC also encourages Governments to leverage public expenditure to stimulate markets for sustainable products and services and help steer society towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns and to enhance efforts to build the requisite capacity for the effective management of sustainable public procurement at all levels (ECOSOC resolution 2021/12, para. 11). 


Technical guidance for government officials

 

Document

CEPA strategy guidance note on fiscal and budget transparency 

Document CEPA strategy guidance note on participatory budgeting 

Expert papers on this topic (2016-present)

 

Document

Transparent and participatory budgeting for the Sustainable Development Goals (E/C.16/2022/6, 24 January 2022) 

Arabic | Chinese | English | French | Russian | Spanish

   
Document

Sustainable public procurement in the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development (E/C.16/2021/4, 1 February 2021

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Document

Integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into national and subnational budgeting and financial management with a focus on Cabo Verde (E/C.16/2021/3, 18 January 2021

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Document

Budgeting for the Sustainable Development Goals (E/C.16/2020/68 January 2020)

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Document

Strengthening fiscal management at the national and subnational levels (E/C.16/2019/624 January 2019)

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Document

Collecting and spending money in such a manner as to best empower people and ensure inclusivity and equality (conference room paper8 April 2019

   
Document The use of tax records for the achievement of the SDGs (conference room paper, 19 November 2018)
   
Document

Building capacities and effectively mobilizing, allocating and managing budgetary resources for implementation of the 2030 Agenda (E/C.16/2018/3, 14 February 2018

Arabic  |  Chinese |  English |  French |  Russian |  Spanish           

   
Document Enhancing efforts to use good governance to prevent, expose and deal with corruption: two significant measures (E/C.16/2016/6, 21 January 2016)
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Document Public and parliamentary oversight of State bodies in the fight against corruption (conference room paper -Russian with summary in English, 27 January 2016)
   
Document The normalisation of corruption: why it occurs and what can be done to minimize it (conference room paperDecember 2015)