14th December 2017, Paris – Minister of Finance Dragan Tevdovski attended the Ministerial Conference in Paris covering the topic: “Good Public Governance – Delivering for Citizens and Businessman”. He addressed at the panel discussion – “How can the public governance make a difference that contributes to long-term economic development?”.
Minister of Finance, in his address, pointed out that the good governance is closely related to transparency. If the public knows how it is governed and where is money being spent, it would be able to put continuous pressure on the public officials when they don’t govern well. Public officials would then know this, which would create incentive for them to govern well and to look after the public purse.
One of the key topics at the ministerial panel discussion in Paris was exactly the transparency. As for this topic, Minister of Finance said that during thee last 6 months, data and documents that were previously unavailable to the public were published, such as: the detailed report on budget execution by budgetary users and the Citizens’ Budget.
In addition, we published unpaid obligations by all budget users, and are finalising our efforts to regularly register and publish all unpaid obligations, whereas next year we will also work on designing a systematic way for preventing this problem in the future Finally, we are also considering to publish all the transactions that go through the government treasury on daily basis. We believe that this would be a rather radical thing in Macedonia. it will greatly improve transparency, it will allow the public to know in details how public money are spent, it will make government officials behave in a more responsible way. In other words, it will also contribute to better governance. “
Dragan Tevdovski commenced his speech by stating that ministries of finance are the guardians of stability and prudence, but they may also focus too much on the immediate expenditure side. He mentioned one of his older colleagues, who commonly entered the Parliament shouting: “No, no, no”, without anyone even asking him anything, since you can all suppose what a Finance Minister is usually asked about. However, he stressed that public investments are really important, but what is even more important is what the money will be spent on.
“My first big issue since taking office in June was the Supplement Budget, and now we are also finalising the 2018 Budget. In both cases, our focus was not so much the immediate expenditure side and cutting spending, but much more what the money is being spent on. In other words, our priority as a Ministry and Government is to enhance efficiency of public spending, thereby ensuring that spending has a maximum effect, and the public is getting “value for money”. In practical terms, this has meant cutting funds for some obviously unnecessary projects and discretionary spending for “goods and services”. On the other hand, we have redirected these savings to key sectors needing support in our country, most notably education and health. In addition, for other items such as social transfers and agricultural subsidies, the Government is focused much more on their proper use – so that social transfers reach the ones that need them most, or that agricultural subsidies have the maximum impact on production and exports – Minister of Finance Tevdovski said.
He added that: “Our determination for good governance is an important pillar, the second pillar to achieving our aims is the public pressure. “
Let me give some more details on this.
“As a first pillar, our determination for good governance can be captured via the PFM Strategy, which has been a work in long process, but was given a push by us a few months back – it should be officially adopted by the end of the year, and implemented in the following years. With this Strategy, and also other steps we undertake, we define our aims and steps to improve key aspects of managing public finances: better public procurement, better public financial controls, a new modern Organic Budget Law, a new Treasury system, modern tax collection. We are aware this is a long, ambitious and difficult process – but we are determined for once to avoid the easy way and take the hard way. And we also know there are hardly any easy political points to gain with this. However, if we are successful with this and other projects, this will guarantee a much better public financial management by the end of our mandate.
Conference was organized by OECD and the European Union. Jan Walliser World Bank Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions was the keynote speaker. In addition to Macedonia’s Minister of Finance, the panel discussion was attended by Ministers of Finance of Ukraine, Serbia, Moldova, as well as the Economic Reforms Minister of Tunisia.