The IMF’s Africa Regional Technical Assistance Center South (AFRITAC South), in collaboration with the Africa Training Institute, held a seminar on “Strengthening Fiscal Frameworks and Public Financial Management Systems for Managing Natural Resource Wealth” on September 21—25, 2015 in Mauritius.
The event brought together government officials from Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe; representatives from the Collaborative African Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI), the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Southern and Eastern Africa (MEFMI); the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); and the European Union (EU) office in Mauritius were also in attendance. An international expert from Sao Tome and Principe shared his country experience.
Discussions focused on the economics and the political economy of natural resource management. The public finance institutional framework in resource rich developing countries; the principles and practical approaches to fiscal forecasting and budgeting; and the specific adaptations to budgeting, reporting, and oversight systems to cater for the demands of the effective management of natural resource wealth are some of the points that were discussed. The transparent management of sovereign wealth funds and their links to the national budget also featured among the issues for discussion. Participants shared their respective experiences in a peer learning process that was highly valued by the group.
Most countries in the region are mature, emerging, or prospective producers of minerals, oil, and gas. They need to use this natural wealth to increase living standards, create new jobs, promote structural transformation, and increase investment in infrastructure. Their common challenge is to shape fiscal management to address the volatility and exhaustibility of natural resources, and to develop public finance systems to promote more transparency and accountability.
Mr. Streevarsen Narrainen, Senior Economic Advisor in the Mauritius Ministry of Finance and Economic Development noted that “countries need to break away from the past experience of poor management of natural resource wealth.” Sharing the experience of his country, he added that “it is importance to take into account the political economy of each country in promoting reforms, since good reforms can stall or be reversed if the political economy is not taken into account.”
AFRITAC South will continue to provide technical assistance and hands on training, facilitating specialized peer-learning in the various topics addressed by the seminar.