Feb 5, 2018

CEF Trainings Help Increase Capacity for Reforms Implementation

We talked to Vanina Jakupi, Director of Directorate for Managing PFM Reforms at the Ministry of Finance of Albania, about the impact of our learning initiatives on her work. She says that trainings enabled her to cooperate with the representatives of other countries and helped her increase capacity to adopt new technologies and methods for the implementation of reforms.

Have you acquired new skills or knowledge and do you now feel more inspired by the work you do? Did it give you new insights, methods and access to learning resources?

I was very excited to be back at the Center of Excellence in Finance (CEF) after many years to participate in the blended learning initiative “Fiscal Programming of Structural Reforms”, which was organized in June. This training was well organized and reliable, covering well the most recent fiscal topics.

In the online learning phase, we discussed the overall framework of budget and policy planning and coordination with EU structures, and focused on the good practices of countries. The tools used in this stage included reading materials, videos and papers that gave an insight into the diverse perspectives and viewpoints of the participants.

In this context, the learning initiative not only increased the overall knowledge but also deepened the existing understanding, which increased job satisfaction, since we all understand that our daily problems are not only ours. We can share concerns with colleagues from other countries and find solutions. In addition, the training course helped increase capacity to adopt new technologies and methods, and enhance motivation and innovation in the steps towards the implementation of reforms.

Have you started any new collaboration with other participants/lecturers? How did participating in our learning initiative change your daily practice?

Sharing experience with other participants and lecturers provides additional value to the training. It gives a wider picture of the challenges and achievements of different countries and helps apply our tailor-made methods for fiscal consolidation, particularly for structural reforms.

I have started collaboration with some of the participants who have a similar situation as Albania. We share methodologies for regulatory impact assessment and discuss progress with drafting Economic Reform Programs. We have also been collaborating with CEF lecturers, requesting successful stories of programming, implementing and monitoring policies included in strategic documents. I have talked with my colleagues at the Ministry of Finance and Economy and shared important findings with high-level decision-makers to integrate these findings into our work.

Albania is drafting the Economic Reform Program 2018–2020 and many considerations from the Montenegro experience are addressed in this document. In adopting the RIA methodology, we included many recommendations from Montenegro, one of the countries in the region to have successfully applied the methodology.

How do you apply the acquired skills and knowledge? Have you improved your personal performance or that of your institution? Are you now generally more successful in delivering your tasks?

Albania has been recently implementing some important reforms, including the adoption of the Public Finance Management Reform Strategy. Following these projected changes, participation in the training related to public finance management has definitely affected the quality of work performance.

I got new insights into the design of reform measures and analysis of the main obstacles; strengthening sector’s decision-making over the use of funds by reinforcing national processes of policy-making; strategy design, implementation and monitoring; budgeting and spending; reporting and auditing at national, sectoral and sub-sectoral levels; increasing coherence between national and sectoral policies and resource allocation (including donor financial aid); and providing a strong incentive for increasing dialogue between counterparts and managing relationships.

After three years of implementing the PFM strategy 2014–2020, it is now necessary to do an in-depth analysis of our achievements and challenges. Relying on the collected information, the Albanian Government will project the future steps to progress with the public finance reform.

Has your working procedure changed as a result of this learning experience?

Reflecting back on this experience is a key to learning. After the training course, we prepared the semi-annual monitoring report for the PFM reform and we kept in mind most of the lessons we learned, such as clear communication between parties, reporting on results and not on actions, clarity on the cost implication as in Kosovo’s case, prioritization of the initiatives in a sequence logic, and segregation of roles and responsibilities of different institutions.

Continued fiscal consolidation is crucial to reducing the risks to debt sustainability and fostering Albania’s growth potential. The credibility of the medium-term budget can be strengthened by using independent macroeconomic forecasts and assessments. For this, MOFE in Albania relies not only on in-house macroeconomic forecasts but also intensifies collaboration with independent institutions like INSTAT and the central bank.

The acquired knowledge helps prepare also for the mid-term evaluation of the PFM reform. In addition, the lecturers provided us with access to learning resources, references, most recent technical notes, manuals and guidelines that have proved very useful to me. As I mentioned before, we are currently dealing with the RIA methodology for adopting Albanian legislation, and we have been using the same reference materials and guidelines as Montenegro.

Has your institution changed any working procedures as a result of your learning experience?

My participation in the training course has helped reshape the general overview of budget preparation and implementation, while considering the fiscal impact on the overall national economy. Further to the functional review of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, it was understood that strengthening decision-based processes is a highly sensitive and political activity, so a Senior Management Team needs to be established to oversee this work. It essentially requires a cultural change in MOFE and the initial key “targets” should be the Deputy Minister, General Secretary and General Directors who should then drive the change as an integrated team.

To this end, we are currently working on drafting a Decision-Making Calendar at the Ministry, which will contain the process and sub-process for decision-making in the financial sector. Some of the insight will be integrated in this document. Outside the Ministry of Finance and Economy, it is recognized that there is an urgent need to strengthen dialogue and coordination with other stakeholders. One of the aims of producing the Decision-Making Calendar is to align monitoring and reporting with the MTBP and other core processes.