Fiscal Programming of Structural Reforms

Online course: May 15 – June 5, 2017IWorkshop: June 13 – 15, 2017ILjubljana, SloveniaIBudget Preparation and Execution

To ensure consistency of planning and budgeting, fiscal coordination between ministries of finance and line ministries needs strengthening. This is particularly true for structural reforms, which are typically complex sets of policies aimed at changing the broad fabric of economy while also inducing substantial fiscal implications. In South East Europe (SEE), the need for accelerated economic growth and the EU integration process provide strong anchors for implementing structural reforms and better integrating their costs into medium-term expenditure frameworks. We engaged officials from SEE ministries of finance and line ministries in a joint reflection on challenges they experience with assessing fiscal impacts of structural reforms, and preparation of Economic Reform Programs (ERPs) and Stability and Convergence Programs.


This learning initiative was designed as blended online and face-to-face learning.

  • Online learning phase, May 15 - June 5, workload about 3hrs per week

At our Online Learning Campus participants were introduced to the overall context of budget and policy planning, as well as the related EU reporting, and examined the underlying processes and good practices, while also appraising the benefits of fiscal coordination.

The three e-learning units (each lasting one week) featured reading materials, short video lectures and interactive exercises, enriched with weekly video meetings that allow participants to discuss course content.

  • Face-to-face workshop, June 13-15, Ljubljana

The subsequent 3-day workshop examined in detail the practical tools and methods for assessing fiscal implications of structural reforms, and their consolidation into strategic fiscal documents, such as ERPs and Stability and Convergence Programs. The workshop provided a ground for sharing experiences and best practices between participants and thematic experts from the SEE region, and beyond. 

We discussed both technical and non-technical factors that contribute to adequate preparation, prioritization, and incorporation of structural reforms into budget and planning documents. We examined the implications of varying definitions of structural reforms, models for assessing their costs and effects, mechanisms to align them with national planning documents and integrate them into annual budget to secure their continuous funding and implementation.

Moreover, we investigated how regulatory and fiscal impact assessments can determine the magnitude of structural reforms. Throughout group exercises and country cases, we provided insight into practical experiences with preparing ERPs and Stability and Convergence Programs, carried out by EU candidate and member countries as part of their dialogue with the EC. Finally, this event provided participants a hands-on opportunity to examine roles and implications of these programs within the EU semester framework. 

Since a comprehensive fiscal programming of structural reforms involves a wide range of stakeholders, this learning initiative also assessed fiscal and policy coordination issues encountered along the way. This way, it contributed to better understanding of roles and responsibilities of line ministries, ministries of finance, and other government actors in strategic planning and budgeting processes, as well as factors enabling or hindering them. Furthermore, we emphasized the competencies line ministries need to manage structural reforms, as well as the capacities ministries of finance need to effectively instigate line ministries to implement them consistently and well-coordinated.

The workshop concluded with a presentation of the findings of a recent study of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on capabilities of budget departments in selected countries around the world, which served as ground for a dialogue on related challenges of budget supervision in SEE countries and the organizational changes that might be needed to address them.

What participants learned

Upon completing this learning initiative, participants were able to:

  • Understand elements and features of structural reforms, incl. their place in establishing macro-fiscal frameworks,  
  • Calculate economic variables that inform assessment of fiscal implications of structural reforms,
  • Determine structural reforms that create largest macroeconomic implications,
  • Identify experiences and potential lessons that could be used to create and articulate effective structural reforms, especially in the context of EU accession,
  • Appraise challenges and factors that are prerequisites of effective coordination among line ministries and ministries of finance in annual and multiyear budgeting and strategic planning.

The event was held in English. Since the online and face-to-face learning phases were designed to be partaking, the participants were actively engaged in discussions and group exercises, and encouraged to share their country’s experiences and challenges in fiscal programming of structural reforms.

Who attended

Public Officials from the CEF Constituency countries, as well as Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine were welcome to apply. Invited were those officials who are working at ministries of finance, line ministries, and central planning and coordinating institutions, and involved in:

  • preparing budget and strategic planning documents,
  • programming, implementing and monitoring policies included in those documents,
  • preparing, assembling and prioritizing inputs for strategic fiscal documents, such as ERPs and Stability and Convergence Program.


No fee was charged. Flights, transfers and accommodation in Slovenia, and meals during the workshop were funded for up to three officials per EU's 2014-2020 Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA II) country, and for one official per country from Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, as well as Slovenia. Applications of additional self-funded candidates from the SEE region (and beyond) were considered, as far as space permitted.


MOJMIR MRAK, Professor at University of Ljubljana and CEF Senior Program Adviser

Mojmir Mrak is a Jean Monnet Chair professor of international finance at the University of Ljubljana and a regular visiting professor at post-graduate programs of the universities of Siena and Vienna. His main research fields include capital flows, trade and project finance, and EU institutional and public finance issues. Professor Mrak is author of numerous books and articles.

Mr. Mrak has more than 20 years of experience in designing and implementing the Slovenian government's policy in areas of international finance and EU accession. In the first five years following independence in 1991, he was the chief external debt negotiator of Slovenia. In addition, he was responsible for the early credit arrangements of Slovenia with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank. Between 1998 and 2002, he was chief advisor of the Slovenian government on financial aspects of the country’s EU accession. Within this framework, he was responsible for negotiations about the financial package of Slovenia’s accession. Between 2003 and early 2006, he coordinated the Slovene government’s activities with respect to the 2007-2013 financial perspective of the EU, and is currently involved in negotiations about the 2014-2020 financial perspective of the EU.

Mr. Mrak has served as a consultant to numerous international organizations and several governments in South East Europe. He is Senior Program Advisor at the CEF.

JANEZ ŠUŠTERŠIČ, Team Leader of the "Support to Strategic Planning Office Project" in Kosovo

Mr. Šušteršič is an economist with more than 10 years hands-on experience in formulating and implementing economic and fiscal policy. He was Minister of Finance in Slovenia in 2012, leading the policy of fiscal consolidation, adopting the legal framework for banking crises resolution, and improving the framework for governance and privatization of state-owned enterprises. From 2000 to 2007, he led the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development providing macroeconomic forecast and economic analysis to Slovenian Government. He was also a Vice-President of the EU's Economic Policy Committee, reporting to the Council of EU Finance Ministers.

Currently, Mr. Šušteršič is a partner and consultant at Re-forma, research and development, ltd. His main engagement is as Senior Economist responsible for improvement the macroeconomic forecasting at Ministry of Finance Kosovo and facilitation of the preparation of Economic and Reform Programmes.

He is also an Associate Professor of Economic Policy at International School for Social and Business Studies in Celje, Slovenia. His academic work, focused on political economy and institutional economics, was published in journals such as Public Choice, Kyklos, and International Review of Law and Economics. Both from his academic work, political and advisory experience Mr. Šušteršič has a comprehensive understanding of the complex political issues and processes that play in the background of any policy decision.

GABRIELA NEGUT, Competitiveness and Innovation Policy Officer at EC DG NEAR

Ms. Negut is working in policy making, negotiation and cooperation with Europe's partner countries, private sector development, with a focus on Maghreb and Western Balkans countries. Specialized in competitiveness and innovation, she builds strategies and policies, sets economic planning and legislation, and supports the establishment of innovation eco-systems, industrial clusters and innovation models to increase competitiveness. Moreover, she is involved in assessment of the partner countries' national economic reform strategies, in particular enlargement countries' Economic Reforms Programmes (ERPs).  Ms. Negut manages large and complex EU projects requiring heavy stakeholder involvement. Currently she is Project Manager for technical cooperation projects implemented by the OECD and the World Bank.

TIJANA STANKOVIĆFormer Advisor to Vice Prime Minister for Economic Policy and Financial System, Montenegro

Tijana graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Podgorica, Montenegro in 1999. She completed postgraduate studies on the Entrepreneurial Economy in 2002 and obtained a master’s in pension system capitalization in 2004.

Between 1999 and 2011 she worked for the Privatization Council, Institute for Strategic Studies and Prognoses, World Bank, and Government of Montenegro in advising, research, and management functions. In 2011-2013 she has been Deputy Minister of Finance responsible for the Sector of Economy Policy and Development. Among other tasks, the sector prepares macroeconomic and fiscal revenue projections as well as all analytical documents needed for preparation of annual budget and medium-term programming documents. During that period, she was project leader of National Development Plan of Montenegro 2013-2015. In period from 2013-2016, she was Advisor to the Vice Prime Minister for Economic Policy and Financial System of Montenegro when she coordinated preparation of Montenegrin Economic Reform Program, Law on Public Private Partnership and Reforms for Competitiveness 2020.

She is a member of special UNECE teams for Public Private Partnerships, Innovation and Competitiveness Policies, Gender Diversity and Governance Network and the Economists Association of Montenegro. She has taken part of numerous economic and scientific conferences and study visits, and has published scientific working papers on economic policy design and analysis.

VALMIRA REXHEBEQAJ, Financial Planning Expert at the “Support to Strategic Planning Office Project” in Kosovo

Valmira has over ten years’ experience working with the Kosovo Government and international organizations, on macroeconomics, fiscal policy and other public finance issues.

She was Director of Economic and Public Policy Department, Ministry of Finance of Kosovo for four years. Throughout her work she was focused on drafting Mid-Term Budget Expenditure Framework, Public Finance Analyses and Sectoral Resource Allocation and Budgeting. Ms. Rexhebeqaj has a long experience working in policy advisory level to devise strategies, monitoring measures, performance indicators and costing strategies. She has been PFM expert in a number of EU funded projects supporting the Prime Minister’s Strategic Planning Office in identifying additional policy measures for the National Development Strategy based on EU recommendations towards the ERP as well as policy recommendations of the EU, WB and IMF. In 2015, she carried out the progress assessment of PFM in Kosovo for FY 2012-2014, based on PEFA methodology, ensuring a comparison of the results of the previous assessment, established a baseline using the indicators from the new proposed PEFA methodology. Since 2015 she has been contracted by SIGMA/OECD in providing support to the Ministry of Finance of Kosovo in drafting the PFM Reform Strategy.

MARK MILLER, Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute

Mark specializes in the design, implementation and evaluation of public financial management and public investment management reforms. He is leading work on understanding the work of the “budget office” in finance ministries around the world. Before joining ODI, he worked for the UK Department for International Development, the United Nations, the World Bank and the Government of Malawi.

SIERD HADLEY, Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute

Sierd conducts research on public financial management and fiscal decentralization in developing countries. He was one of the authors of the recent report on “the capabilities of finance ministries”. Previously he worked for the UK Treasury and Swaziland’s Ministry of Finance.

RICHARD BARNEVELD, Financial Economic Affairs Department of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Netherlands

Richard has been working with the Financial Economic Affairs Department of the Ministry of Interior Affairs since 2010. He is working on budget processes for many years in different positions, among others with the Ministry of Interior Affairs and the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment. He has been a trainer of the Dutch National Academy of Finance and Economics both in the Netherlands and at missions abroad.


This learning initiative was supported by:

Safe & WB & EC Ministry of Finance, the Netherlands Ministry of Finance Slovenia