With the aim of long-term, multilateral African support for budget reform and sound public finance management, the ministries of finance of South Africa, Mozambique and Uganda hosted a budget reform seminar from 1–3 December 2004 in Pretoria, South Africa. The seminar was the first activity of the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI). It was attended by senior budget officials from 16 African countries – Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – public finance experts, representatives from regional organisations and members of the development partner community.
One of the primary challenges faced by governments across the world is to translate development goals into specific policies and programmes. Budgets, and how public funds are raised, allocated and managed, constitute the main avenue through which
governments channel their resources in pursuance of welfare goals. Good public finance management requires a well-designed set of institutions and systems for budget formulation and execution. The budget reform initiatives across the African continent over the years have recognised the connection between sound budget management and development. Furthermore, to many stakeholders, more effective budget management systems are required not only to fulfil governance requirements, but also to ensure that increasing democratisation in Africa delivers real value to local electorates.
Finance ministry officials are at the heart of many of these reform efforts, as success depends to a large extent on their ability to analyse existing deficiencies, decide on changes and manage implementation. External assistance is usually available for this process; however, experience across Africa has shown that local knowledge and management is essential. When local knowledge is complemented by an understanding of alternative solutions that have been tried and tested elsewhere, the ability
of officials to design and implement appropriate budget reforms is enhanced.
In addition, while there is considerable literature on budget reform efforts in Africa, it has mostly been developed by the multi- and bi-lateral providers of development assistance or by international research institutions. These documents are
valuable but represent external evaluations of reforms efforts, based on external knowledge frameworks. More importantly, the interest of senior budget officials in learning from their peers in other African countries has become increasingly apparent in recent years, with requests to the well-known reformers for information, exchange visits and presentations at in-country workshops.
CABRI began as a response to the interest in peer-to-peer lesson sharing. It is an African-led and managed initiative that aims to improve the efficacy of public financial management reforms by: (i) bolstering the capacity of senior budget officials to
take an active role in planning and managing reforms; and (ii) expanding the existing knowledge of what works and what does not work, by making explicit the knowledge African officials hold on reform modalities. The spirit of the initiative’s objectives is underpinned by the values of sound governance, accelerated development and African-grown solutions.
The programme of the CABRI budget reform seminar was a combination of a theme-based and case-study based approach, organised around four central themes related to the planning, budgeting and implementation aspects of the budget cycle. The themes were: (i) building budget credibility; (ii) introducing a strategic mediumterm perspective; (iii) improving the quality of expenditure; and (iv) reform design and implementation.
The programme was aimed at affording as many participants as possible an opportunity to present an insight into budget reforms in their country. The seminar booklet, which accompanies this publication, provides a broad overview of the discussions, and includes a list of all participants. While 16 countries attended the seminar, the initiative is open to all countries – it is the explicit intention to give CABRI a pan-African character.
One of the aims of CABRI is to contribute to a common African resource base for African officials on public finance management in Africa – including materials and access to peers in other countries on the continent.
This book contains country case studies that were prepared for the seminar and that document experiences in a range of public finance and budgeting practices. They present an assessment by senior budget officials of the state of their country’s budgeting
system and a review of related reform programmes pursued – what successes were achieved and what obstacles were encountered. The case studies underline the many good practices and the progress made across countries that can be emulated by others. There are valuable lessons from reform efforts that can and should be shared amongst countries in Africa.