Pakistani case study
What is the public sector like in your country?
Asmat Khan, PFM specialist, Adam Smith International:
Life in Pakistan, life in public sector is extremely challenging but yet rewarding and provides ample opportunities for innovative and reform-oriented people like me.
I don't know of any other job that could provide you with the opportunity to work at two leadership roles and to impact on the people and thousands of lives on a daily basis for good. And every decision we take and every initiative that we make are all for the public good, without concentrating on profit or maximisation of wealth, which is the case in the private sector.
Shakeel Qadir Khan, secretary finance, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:
The public financial management in the government sector is entirely different from what we view in the private sector. For us it is a balancing act between receipts, which are always scarce, and meeting our expenditure requirements, primarily in the social sectors. So it is a challenging job. But with the passage of time, the province is getting more funding out of the intergovernmental fiscal transfers and we are spending more on the sectors, which are high on the priority of the government.
Could you describe a public finance initiative that has occurs in your country?
The flagship project that was introduced by the Government of Pakistan will speak for itself, which was implemented through the technical assistance of the World Bank and included the introduction of a financial auditing manual, a new accounting model, specialized chart of accounts to record transaction of the government, and a save based integrated financial management information system. This one project changed the entire PFM infrastructure within the country. And now each and every form that is implemented is based on that reform. And that only PFM project provides all the information for the government decision making, and particularly provide a public service delivery in the critical areas of education and health.
Our province fortunately is very pro reforms. Especially the five years of the PTA government here many reforms were initiated, many finance department as well. We have a strategy or multiple strategies available. Now we are thinking about business process reengineering, we're thinking about collecting more taxes. We're also thinking about getting a tech management strategy for us, a new PFM act for us, which was the first one in this province. So a lot has happened and that has resulted in reducing costs to a certain degree, although we believe that it's just the beginning.
Do you think that this reform initiative provided immediate value for citizens?
I would say that because of the reform initiatives, we already have saved or ‘earmarked’ additional resources worth about 12 billion rupees in the last financial year. And this year, again, we are aiming for saving and raising the revenues to the tune of about 35 billion rupees in this financial year. So all this is because we have a better financial management system. And as I said, as we move along, we hope that we'll be able to raise more and save more.
It has benefited the citizens in terms of improved service delivery, particularly in health and education sector.
What would you like to say to other finance professionals implementing PFM reform around the world?
My advice to other PFM professionals working on PFM reforms around the world would be that we must embrace the fact that one size doesn't fit all. And as such, whenever we adopt an international reform, successfully implemented elsewhere, we should make sure that that reform is tailored to fit the local context, social and technological advancement of that country. Plus, what is always the missing factor is a concrete capacity development plan, which should always be made part of the design of the PFM reforms right at the planning stage, so as to make all these reforms sustainable.