Jun 13, 2014

SPB Newsfeed: Taking Part in SPB Activities - Sharing Regional Expertise

Montenegro is currently implementing a medium-term budgeting framework; these efforts emphasize the importance of learning from other countries’ good practices. The ministry of finance has an important role in establishing a good framework; however, good medium-term budgeting cannot be properly done without the line ministries involved. Including public finance experts from line ministries in a discussion with their colleagues from ministries of finance develops capacities on both sides, and promotes transfer of knowledge.

In 2010, I attended a CEF introduction into public financial management. My first contact with the CEF’s Strategic Planning and Budgeting (SPB) project was through joining its steering committee in early summer 2013; some written correspondence to help the CEF implementing the project in line with beneficiaries followed. In January 2014, we welcomed a CEF representative at the Ministry of Finance of Montenegro, as part of the project’s visibility tour. I have later attended two SPB training activities – a training of trainers (hosted by the Regional School of Public Administration in Montenegro), and a workshop on medium-term budgeting (hosted by the CEF in Slovenia). Currently I am also a student of CEF TIAPS program in Montenegro.

The SPB training of trainers introduced us to becoming trainers in our respective fields, sharing knowledge with colleagues in our own countries, and others in the region. The training was very stimulating, as it introduced me to some of the psychological and pedagogical aspects of presenting and discussing knowledge. This is particularly helpful for us working in the field of public financial management, bearing in mind that public finance covers mostly quite technical aspects of work and we usually deal mainly with numbers. Being trained in such soft skills will surely help me in sharing my professional expertise more effectively.

The workshop on medium-term budgeting provided an opportunity to apply what I have learned in this training, by becoming a lecturer and co-facilitator myself. In that role, I shared with my colleagues from South East Europe the experience of Montenegro in establishing a medium-term budget framework, and gave them feedback on a simulation of budget negotiations between ministries of finance and line ministries.

I much appreciate SPB activities in providing opportunities to experts for sharing their experience, and encouraging them to think about ways to improve performance of their institutions. After returning to the office, participants can initiate improvements in their institutions, i.e. through communicating what they have learned to their colleagues, or rising awareness to their superiors and decision makers on promising reform alternatives and good practices from other countries in the EU and the region. While participants share a joint wish to contribute to such improvements in their institutions, the different backgrounds and levels of knowledge stimulates the participatory learning at SPB activities.

I experienced that new networks created at SPB activities can help us at work, e.g. when engaging in similar reform efforts as other countries in the region, or reforms that have been already implemented by some more advanced economies members of the EU. In particular, most of the countries in the region are in more or less similar phase regarding implementation of a Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). Sharing acquired experiences in this field among ourselves, as well as learning from countries that have advanced in developing the system of MTEF, like Sweden and the Netherlands, would certainly contribute significantly to establishing an effective system in our own countries, and therefore more an efficient public financial management in general.

SPB activities also help strengthening networks between ministries of finance and line ministries. As part of preparing medium-term budget frameworks, line ministries discuss their multi-annual fiscal strategy with the ministry of finance. The contribution of the SPB project in involving line ministry staff in mutual training and networking events is thus very important, bearing in mind that line ministries are usually neglected from such trainings, yet are quite an important stakeholder in the whole planning and budgeting process.

Bojan Paunović
Senior Advisor
Ministry of Finance

SPB Project Website