IMF & EAC to upgrade Gov’t Finance Statistics with new program

 African Business Panel-(Arusha)-The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the East African Community (EAC) this week launched a collaborative program to improve the compilation and dissemination of Government Finance Statistics (GFS) for Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The inaugural workshop was held in Arusha, Tanzania, from August 25-29, 2014.

The workshop provided an opportunity for statisticians and economists from the EAC region to identify the needs for technical assistance (TA) to strengthen GFS to be provided by the IMF. The program will assist the EAC Partner States to meet the fiscal data requirements associated with the East African Community Monetary Union (EAMU) protocol, signed by EAC Heads of State in November 2013.

Dr. Enos Bukuku, EAC Deputy Secretary in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, welcomed the opportunity to host the workshop and launch the GFS program. “The intervention is timely in facilitating production of robust statistical data required for the establishment of EAMU and transition to EAC single currency by 2024,” noted Dr. Bukuku. He added that GFS compiled in accordance with internationally agreed methodological standards would not only provide the EAC region with an important framework for comparing, analyzing and evaluating fiscal policy, but also an opportunity to improve government and public sector performance.

Mr.Barredo Capelot, Director of the Government Finance Statistics and Quality Directorate in Eurostat, said “solid and comprehensive fiscal statistics are essential for regional integration and preserving macroeconomic stability.”

Mr. Sukhwinder Singh, Coordinator at the IMF’s East Africa Regional Technical Assistance Center (East AFRITAC), noted that “as part of the collaboration program, the IMF will provide TA through hands-on sessions during visits by experts to participating countries, as well as regular workshops to provide practical training and allow countries to share experiences.”

During this inaugural workshop, country representatives from the EAC discussed their national fiscal data development plans that will guide the work of improving compilation and dissemination of regionally comparable GFS data in accordance with international standards. This is to be done by 2018, which is within the timeline of the EAMU protocol.

IMF staff shared their expertise in developing systems for compiling GFS and government debt statistics. TA needs were drawn up based on national priorities and work plans are also already underway. This work reflects the initiative and migration to the use of the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2014 (GFSM 2014) methodology in reporting fiscal data related to the EAMU macroeconomic convergence criteria, which would be compatible with international standards and best practices and consistent with other macroeconomic statistical systems.