Manual on Fiscal Transparency

Front Matter

Front Matter

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International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
January 2002
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    MANUAL ON

    FISCAL TRANSPARENCY

    Fiscal Affairs Department

    INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND

    © 2001 International Monetary Fund

    Production: IMF Graphics Section

    Cover design: Sanaa Elaroussi

    Typesetting: Alicia Etchebarne-Bourdin

    Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Manual on fiscal transparency. —Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, Fiscal Affairs Dept., [2001].

    p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references.

    ISBN 1-58906-055-5

    1. Fiscal policy. 2. Disclosure of information. 3. International Monetary Fund. I. International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.

    HJ192.5.M35 2001

    Price: US$19.50

    Address orders to:

    International Monetary Fund, Publication Services

    700 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20431, U.S.A.

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    Contents

    The following symbols have been used throughout this paper:

    • … to indicate that data are not available;

    • — to indicate that the figure is zero or less than half the final digit shown, or that the item does not exist;

    • – between years or months (e.g., 2000-01 or January-June) to indicate the years or months covered, including the beginning and ending years or months;

    • / between years (e.g., 2000/01) to indicate a fiscal (financial) year.

    “Billion” means a thousand million.

    Minor discrepancies between constituent figures and totals are due to rounding.

    The term “country,” as used in this paper, does not in all cases refer to a territorial entity that is a state as understood by international law and practice; the term also covers some territorial entities that are not states, but for which statistical data are maintained and provided internationally on a separate and independent basis.

    Preface

    I am pleased that the Manual on Fiscal Transparency and the Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency can now be made available in printed format for the first time. The Code had been developed in response to a concern, highlighted by experience in a number of countries, that a lack of comprehensive and reliable information on fiscal activity made it difficult to properly assess the objectives and implications of fiscal policy. This created problems not only for financial markets, international organizations (like the IMF) and others outside a country, but also for the country’s legislature and public, and often for the government itself. The Code is intended to promote improvements in fiscal transparency.

    The Manual, earlier versions of which have been available on the IMF website, explains the requirements of the Code and provides illustrations of the various good practices included in the Code. It has been used primarily to help member countries undertake assessments of the transparency of fiscal management practices relative to the requirements of the Code, and to guide them in establishing priorities for improving fiscal transparency. In addition, it has been a reference on fiscal transparency for economists and financial analysts.

    The Code and the Manual have been produced in consultation with other IMF departments, and with international organizations interested in fiscal transparency, including the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Richard Hemming, William Allan, and Murray Petrie undertook most of the work involved, with the assistance of Helen Blyth and contributions from numerous other colleagues. Gail Berre of the IMF’s External Relations Department coordinated the production of the publication.

    After being discussed by the IMF Executive Board, the Code and the Manual were released on the IMF’s website in 1998, the Code in April and the Manual in November. They were subsequently revised, and the current versions were posted on the website in March 2001. Further revisions are anticipated to reflect developments in fiscal management practices and experience with implementing the Code. In the meantime, and in response to many requests, a hard copy version of the Manual is being published. I hope that this will allow the Manual to better serve its intended purposes, and in the process help forward the cause of fiscal transparency.

    Teresa Ter-Minassian

    Director

    Fiscal Affairs Department

    Abbreviations and Acronyms

    COFOG

    Classification of the Functions of Government

    ESA

    European System of Accounts

    FSAP

    Financial Sector Assessment Program

    GAAP

    Generally Accepted Accounting Principles

    GDDS

    General Data Dissemination System

    GFS

    Government Finance Statistics

    IFAC

    International Federation of Accountants

    INTOSAI

    International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions

    IPSAS

    International Public Sector Accounting Standards

    OECD

    Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

    PSC

    Public Sector Committee (of IFAC)

    PUMA

    Public Management and Governance

    ROSC

    Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes

    SDDS

    Special Data Dissemination Standard

    SNA

    System of National Accounts

    UN

    United Nations

    UNCITRAL

    United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

    Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency*

    1. Clarity of Roles and Responsibilities

    1.1

    The government sector should be distinguished from the rest of the public sector and from the rest of the economy, and policy and management roles within the public sector should be clear and publicly disclosed.

    • The structure and functions of government should be clearly specified.

    • The responsibilities of different levels of government, and of the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judiciary, should be well defined.

    • Clear mechanisms for the coordination and management of budgetary and extrabudgetary activities should be established.

    • Relations between the government and nongovernment public sector agencies (i.e., the central bank, public financial institutions, and nonfinancial public enterprises) should be based on clear arrangements.

    • Government involvement in the private sector (e.g., through regulation and equity ownership) should be conducted in an open and public manner, and on the basis of clear rules and procedures that are applied in a nondiscriminatory way.

    1.2

    There should be a clear legal and administrative framework for fiscal management.

    • Any commitment or expenditure of public funds should be governed by comprehensive budget laws and openly available administrative rules.

    • Taxes, duties, fees, and charges should have an explicit legal basis. Tax laws and regulations should be easily accessible and understandable, and clear criteria should guide any administrative discretion in their application.

    • Ethical standards of behavior for public servants should be clear and well publicized.

    2. Public Availability of Information

    2.1

    The public should be provided with full information on the past, current, and projected fiscal activity of government.

    • The budget documentation, final accounts, and other fiscal reports for the public should cover all budgetary and extrabudgetary activities of the central government, and the consolidated fiscal position of the central government should be published.

    • Information comparable to that in the annual budget should be provided for the outturns of the two preceding fiscal years, together with forecasts of the main budget aggregates for two years following the budget.

    • Statements describing the nature and fiscal significance of central government contingent liabilities and tax expenditures, and of quasi-fiscal activities, should be part of the budget documentation.

    • The central government should publish full information on the level and composition of its debt and financial assets.

    • Where subnational levels of government are significant, their combined fiscal position and the consolidated fiscal position of the general government should be published.

    2.2

    A commitment should be made to the timely publication of fiscal information.

    • The publication of fiscal information should be a legal obligation of government.

    • Advance release date calendars for fiscal information should be announced.

    3. Open Budget Preparation, Execution, and Reporting

    3.1

    The budget documentation should specify fiscal policy objectives, the macroeconomic framework, the policy basis for the budget, and identifiable major fiscal risks.

    • A statement of fiscal policy objectives and an assessment of fiscal sustainability should provide the framework for the annual budget.

    • Any fiscal rules that have been adopted (e.g., a balanced budget requirement or borrowing limits for subnational levels of government) should be clearly specified.

    • The annual budget should be prepared and presented within a comprehensive and consistent quantitative macroeconomic framework, and the main assumptions underlying the budget should be provided.

    • New policies being introduced in the annual budget should be clearly described.

    • Major fiscal risks should be identified and quantified where possible, including variations in economic assumptions and the uncertain costs of specific expenditure commitments (e.g., financial restructuring).

    3.2

    Budget information should be presented in a way that facilitates policy analysis and promotes accountability.

    • Budget data should be reported on a gross basis, distinguishing revenue, expenditure, and financing, with expenditure classified by economic, functional, and administrative category. Data on extrabudgetary activities should be reported on the same basis.

    • A statement of objectives to be achieved by major budget programs (e.g., improvement in relevant social indicators) should be provided.

    • The overall balance of the general government should be a standard summary indicator of the government’s fiscal position. It should be supplemented where appropriate by other fiscal indicators for the general government (e.g., the operational balance, the structural balance, or the primary balance).

    • The public sector balance should be reported when nongovernment public sector agencies undertake significant quasi-fiscal activities.

    3.3

    Procedures for the execution and monitoring of approved expenditure and for collecting revenue should be clearly specified.

    • There should be a comprehensive, integrated accounting system which provides a reliable basis for assessing payment arrears.

    • Procurement and employment regulations should be standardized and accessible to all interested parties.

    • Budget execution should be internally audited, and audit procedures should be open to review.

    • The national tax administration should be legally protected from political direction and should report regularly to the public on its activities.

    3.4

    There should be regular fiscal reporting to the legislature and the public.

    • A mid-year report on budget developments should be presented to the legislature. More frequent (at least quarterly) reports should also be published.

    • Final accounts should be presented to the legislature within a year of the end of the fiscal year.

    • Results achieved relative to the objectives of major budget programs should be presented to the legislature annually.

    4. Assurances of Integrity

    4.1

    Fiscal data should meet accepted data quality standards.

    • Budget data should reflect recent revenue and expenditure trends, underlying macroeconomic developments, and well-defined policy commitments.

    • The annual budget and final accounts should indicate the accounting basis (e.g., cash or accrual) and standards used in the compilation and presentation of budget data.

    • Specific assurances should be provided as to the quality of fiscal data. In particular, it should be indicated whether data in fiscal reports are internally consistent and have been reconciled with relevant data from other sources.

    4.2

    Fiscal information should be subjected to independent scrutiny.

    • A national audit body or equivalent organization, which is independent of the executive, should provide timely reports for the legislature and public on the financial integrity of government accounts.

    • Independent experts should be invited to assess fiscal forecasts, the macroeconomic forecasts on which they are based, and all underlying assumptions.

    • A national statistics agency should be provided with the institutional independence to verify the quality of fiscal data.

    Overview

    1. At its fiftieth meeting in Washington, D.C., on April 16, 1998, the Interim Committee of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund adopted the Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency—Declaration on Principles. This was done in response to a clear consensus that good governance is of central importance to achieving macroeconomic stability and high-quality growth, and that fiscal transparency is a key aspect of good governance.1 Fiscal transparency should make those responsible for the design and implementation of fiscal policies more accountable. The stronger, more credible fiscal policies that follow should attract the support of a well-informed public, result in more favorable access to domestic and international capital markets, and reduce the incidence and severity of crises.

    2. The Code, together with the explanatory Manual on Fiscal Transparency, a fiscal transparency questionnaire, and a summary self-evaluation report, were posted as fiscal transparency web pages on the IMF’s external website in November 1998.2 Since May 1999, fiscal transparency web pages have been part of a Standards and Codes website.3 Fiscal transparency modules of Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSCs), which assess the extent to which fiscal management practices in a number of countries are consistent with the Code, are also available on the Standards and Codes website.4 Interactions with country authorities in connection with preparing ROSCs, and other contacts with fiscal policy specialists from a range of international, government, and private sector organizations, have confirmed the usefulness of the framework provided by the Code, and its supporting material, in analyzing fiscal transparency.

    3. However, in response to an increased emphasis on ensuring the provision to the IMF and to markets of the best available economic and financial information, it has become apparent that more attention needs to be paid to the data quality aspect of fiscal transparency, and that this should be addressed in the Code. Accordingly, a new section has been added to the Code that includes good practices related specifically to the quality of fiscal data. There are also new good practices concerned with autonomy and openness in tax administration and reporting on public sector5 finances, and other changes have been made to the organization and drafting of the Code to make it clearer. The Manual has been revised to reflect the modifications to the Code, and in response to comments received on its detailed content and general user friendliness.

    4. The original definition of fiscal transparency—which emphasizes being open to the public about the structure and functions of government, fiscal policy intentions, public sector accounts, and fiscal projections (Kopits and Craig, 1998)—continues to form the basis of the Code.6 The following four general principles of fiscal transparency, which provide the organizational structure of the Code, also remain largely unchanged.

    • The first general principle—Clarity of Roles and Responsibilities—is concerned with specifying the structure and functions of government, responsibilities within government, and relations between government and the rest of the economy.

    • The second general principle—Public Availability of Information—emphasizes the importance of publishing comprehensive fiscal information at clearly specified times.

    • The third general principle—Open Budget Preparation, Execution, and Reporting—covers the type of information that is made available about the budget process.

    • The fourth general principle—Assurances of Integrity—deals with the quality of fiscal data and the need for independent scrutiny of fiscal information.

    The fourth general principle has been amended compared to the previous version of the Code, where the focus was entirely on the provision of independent assurances of the integrity of fiscal information by an external auditor, a national statistics agency, and other experts. Reflecting the increased emphasis on the quality of fiscal data noted above, the fourth general principle now addresses more directly this aspect of fiscal transparency.

    5. Specific principles and good practices correspond to each of the general principles. The good practices represent a standard of fiscal transparency that is judged appropriate to provide assurances to the public and to capital markets that a sufficiently complete picture of the structure and finances of government is available to allow the soundness of a country’s fiscal position to be reliably assessed. It is therefore a standard that most countries should seek to meet.

    6. In preparing the Manual, a number of points have been taken into account. First, the Code is being implemented on a voluntary basis. To promote an appreciation of the rationale for the Code, and an understanding of its fiscal transparency requirements, the Manual sets out in detail the principles and practices included in the Code. However, because of the complexity of fiscal management systems, the Manual does not provide comprehensive directions on how all the good practices are to be put in place. Instead, it contains numerous references and website addresses that can assist with the practical implementation of the Code. But even then, many countries will have to make a significant effort and will need considerable time to achieve a level of fiscal transparency consistent with the Code.

    7. Second, fiscal transparency is only one aspect of good fiscal management, and care is needed to distinguish fiscal transparency from two other key aspects, namely the efficiency of fiscal policy, and the soundness of public finances. As the introduction to the original version of the Code notes, attention has to be paid to all three aspects, which are clearly interrelated. But institutional changes that would lead to more efficient government and promote sound public finances are not advocated directly in the Code. Thus, if the government pursues fiscal policy objectives through extrabudgetary funds and tax expenditures, or if nongovernment public sector agencies engage in quasi-fiscal activities, the Code requires only that the purpose of such interventions should be clearly identified and their financial consequences reported. However, the expectation is that transparency about extrabudgetary funds, tax expenditures, and quasi-fiscal activities will provide less incentive for their extensive use, and lead to some of them being replaced by traditional practices of fiscal management.

    8. Third, diversity of institutional backgrounds and capacity constraints to improving fiscal management are clearly recognized. For this reason, the Code is not a best practice standard. Rather, it is a set of good practices that can be implemented by most countries over the medium to longer term. Moreover, the Manual highlights a selection of good practices that should be the main focus of attention in countries with weaker fiscal management systems. These basic requirements of fiscal transparency, which are given in Box 1, emphasize good practices related to fiscal reporting and fiscal data quality.

    Box 1.Basic Requirements of Fiscal Transparency

    1. Clarity of Roles and Responsibilities

    The structure and functions of government should be clearly specified. An institutional table should be published showing the structure of government and the rest of the public sector.

    Relations between the government and nongovernment public sector agencies (i.e., the central bank, public financial institutions, and nonfinancial public enterprises) should be based on clear arrangements. Links between fiscal and monetary operations of the central bank should meet the requirements of Sections 1.2 and 1.3 of the Code of Good Practices on Transparency in Monetary and Financial Policies—Declaration of Principles. The annual reports of public financial institutions and nonfinancial public enterprises should indicate the noncommercial services that the government requires them to provide. Privatization of government assets should be open to independent audit.

    2. Public Availability of Information

    The budget documentation, final accounts, and other fiscal reports for the public should cover all budgetary and extrabudgetary activities of the central government, and the consolidated fiscal position of the central government should be provided. Detailed statements should be provided for all extrabudgetary funds.

    Statements describing the nature and fiscal significance of central government contingent liabilities and tax expenditures, and of quasi-fiscal activities, should be part of the budget documentation. Such statements should indicate the public policy purpose of each provision, its duration, and the intended beneficiaries. Where possible, major provisions should be quantified.

    The central government should publish full information on the level and composition of its debt and financial assets.

    Where subnational levels of government are significant, their combined fiscal position and the consolidated fiscal position of the general government should be published. Subnational levels of governments should also report publicly on their extrabudgetary activities, debt and financial assets, contingent liabilities, and tax expenditures, and on the quasi-fiscal activities of public financial institutions and nonfinancial public enterprises under their control.

    The publication of fiscal information should be a legal obligation of government.

    3. Open Budget Preparation, Execution, and Reporting

    The annual budget should be prepared and presented within a comprehensive and consistent quantitative macroeconomic framework, and the main assumptions underlying the budget should be provided. This information should be provided in a background paper that is part of the budget documentation.

    Budget data should be reported on a gross basis, distinguishing revenue, expenditure, and financing, with expenditure classified by economic, functional, and administrative category. Data on extrabudgetary activities should be reported on the same basis. The GFS or another widely accepted classification system should be used.

    There should be a comprehensive, integrated accounting system which provides a reliable basis for assessing payment arrears. Cash accounting reports should be supplemented by accounts-based reports of bills due for payment to assess arrears.

    A mid-year report on budget developments should be presented to the legislature within three months of the mid-year. More frequent (at least quarterly) reports should also be published. Details of central government debt and financial assets should be published annually, within six months of the end of thefiscalyear.

    Final accounts should be presented to the legislature within a year of the end of the fiscal year. The coverage of final accounts, and the timing of their presentation, should be specified in the budget law.

    4. Assurances of Integrity

    Budget data should reflect recent revenue and expenditure trends, underlying macroeconomic developments, and well-defined policy commitments. Summary information on revenue forecasts and expenditure estimates should be provided in a background paper that is part of the budget documentation, and detailed supporting information should be available for independent scrutiny.

    The annual budget and final accounts should indicate the accounting basis (e.g., cash or accrual) and standards used in the compilation and presentation of budget data. Reference should be made to the recognized or generally accepted accounting standards that are followed (e.g., International Public Sector Accounting Standards).

    Specific assurances should be provided as to the quality of fiscal data. In particular, it should be indicated whether data in fiscal reports are internally consistent and have been reconciled with relevant data from other sources. Final accounts should be fully reconciled with budget appropriations, and each should be reconciled with GFS fiscalreports. The change in the stock of debt (and financial assets) should be reconciled with the reported budget balance. A background paper should be included with the budget documentation which analyses the difference between budget forecasts of the main macroeconomic and fiscal aggregates and the outturn for recent years. There should be rigorous reconciliation of fiscal and monetary data, and where reconciliation processes are weak, this should be drawn to public attention (e.g., in audit reports) in a timely manner. Countries should participate in the GDDS.

    A national audit body or equivalent organization, which is independent of the executive, should provide timely reports for the legislature and public on the financial integrity of government accounts. Such a body should be set up under law. There should be mechanisms to help ensure that remedial action is taken in response to adverse findings in external audit reports.

    9. The fact that the Code is pitched at the general government level, in the sense that it requires information to be provided by the central government about general government activities and finances, may also be a problem for some countries, and especially for those where weaknesses in fiscal management systems relate to fiscal relations between central government and subnational levels of government. It is therefore recognized that the application of the Code (and the basic requirements of fiscal transparency) in certain cases may have to be limited, at least in the first instance, to the central government. It is also realized that the constitutional relationship between central and subnational governments in a few countries makes it inappropriate for the central government to report on general government activities and finances.

    10. The Manual also goes beyond the Code by identifying best practices of fiscal transparency which should be put in place by advanced economies which have already attained or are close to attaining the standard of the Code. In this connection, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has produced a set of best practice guidelines—OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency—which provide a useful starting point.7 These OECD guidelines are derived from a compendium of OECD member country practices. However, they include much that is already in the Code. Also, by focusing only on budget (rather than fiscal) transparency, and the central government (rather than the general government), they are narrower in coverage than the Code. Box 2 therefore suggests best practices in all areas covered by the Code, drawing where appropriate on the OECD guidelines.

    Box 2.Best Practices of Fiscal Transparency

    1. Clarity of Roles and Responsibilities

    There should be full compliance with SNA definitions of economic sectors.

    Relevant disclosure and transparency requirements of Principle IV of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance should be observed by public financial institutions and nonfinancial public enterprises.

    OECD Policy Recommendations on Regulatory Reform dealing with the transparency of regulations should be fully implemented.

    OECD-PUMA principles for managing ethics in the public sector should be observed.

    2. Public Availability of Information

    Aggregate fiscal projections for 5-10 years ahead should be provided in the budget documentation.

    Contingent liabilities should be disclosed in the annual budget, the mid-year report to the legislature and the final accounts; they should be classified by category; and information on the past calls on the government to meet contingent liabilities should be disclosed (item 2.6 of the OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency).

    The estimated cost of all tax expenditure items should be provided in the budget documentation. To the extent possible, discussion of tax expenditures and general expenditure should be combined (item 2.2 of the OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency). Reporting on quasi-fiscal activities should include quantified estimates of their fiscal significance, and information should be provided on the basis for quantification.

    A government balance sheet should be published as part of the budget documentation. It should ideally cover financial liabilities and assets, and nonfinancial assets, of the government. Where nonfinancial assets are not covered, a register of nonfinancial assets should be maintained, and a listing of nonfinancial assets should be provided in the budget documentation.

    SDDS requirements relating to the provision of information on central government debt and to the commitments made in advance release date calendars should be met.

    Either comprehensive fiscal data should be compiled by all levels of government using a uniform classification and a consolidated general government financial position should be presented with the annual central government budget, or subnational levels of government that are independent fiscal agencies should observe the same standard of fiscal transparency as the central government.

    Public availability of a wide range of fiscal information (including official policy papers), with clearly specified and justified exceptions, should be required by law.

    3. Open Budget Preparation, Execution, and Reporting

    A prebudget report should be presented no later than one month prior to the tabling of the annual budget, stating the government’s medium-term economic and fiscal intentions, and highlighting the total revenue, expenditure, the deficit or surplus, and debt (item 1.2 of the OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency). The draft budget should be presented to the legislature no less than three months prior to the start of the fiscal year, and the budget should be approved prior to the start of the fiscal year (item 1.1 of the OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency).

    A long-term report assessing the sustainability of current fiscal policies should be published every five years (item 1.7 of the OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency).

    A comprehensive, rolling medium-term budget framework should be published as a central basis of fiscal management.

    The estimated fiscal effects of all proposed central government legislation, including the cost implications for subnational levels of government, should be made publicly available.

    A statement of fiscal risks should be included in the budget documentation as a basis for assessing the budget’s reliability as a guide to likely fiscal outcomes.

    Transactions should be classified by activity or output, and by program or outcome. Detailed financial and nonfinancial performance information for all outputs/activities and programs/outcomes, together with comparable information for the previous year, should be part of the budget documentation.

    The accounting system should have the capacity for accounting and reporting on an accrual basis, as well as for generating cash reports.

    The mid-year budget report should be presented to the legislature within six weeks of the mid-year (item 1.4 of the OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency).

    A monthly budget report should be published with a lag of a month.

    Central government debt (and debt service projections) should be reported quarterly, with a lag of a quarter.

    Reliable information on the general government outturn should be presented within 12 months of year-end.

    Final accounts should be presented to the legislature within six months of the end of the fiscal year.

    Results achieved relative to all performance targets should be independently audited and presented to the legislature within six months of the end of the fiscal year.

    4. Assurances of Integrity

    Mechanisms should be set up to provide for openness of the standard setting process for government accounting and financial reporting, and for its independence from government.

    Fiscal forecasts and outturns should be reconciled and all significant differences should be explained.

    A national audit body, or equivalent organization, should report to the legislature and the public on all matters relating to fiscal policy integrity and transparency.

    Institutional mechanisms should be established to provide the public with independent assurance that macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts are of high quality.

    11. Fourth, in some areas covered by the Code there are already international standards that have been developed by the IMF and other organizations. The Code and the Manual are coordinated with these other initiatives. In particular, consistency has been maintained with those parts of IMF data standards—the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) and the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS)—that relate to fiscal data, with the proposed revision to the IMF Government Finance Statistics (GFS) system, and with the IMF Code of Good Practices on Transparency in Monetary and Financial PoliciesDeclaration of Principles (the monetary and financial transparency code) insofar as it relates to links between the government and the banking and financial sectors.8 Public sector accounting standards developed by the Public Sector Committee of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC-PSC) are highlighted in the Manual, and auditing standards produced under the auspices of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) are also taken into account.

    12. Finally, as noted above, assessments of fiscal transparency in the form of ROSC fiscal transparency modules have commenced. A few countries have also undertaken independent assessments. Such assessments are based primarily on completed fiscal transparency questionnaires. While the Manual has provided a sufficient basis for country authorities in some cases to respond fully to the questions posed, in other cases expert help has been required to complete questionnaires. Such help is likely to be even more important when it comes to drawing up action plans in response to shortcomings that might be identified in ROSCs and with implementing measures included in those plans. Thus, the availability of the Manual notwithstanding, it is recognized that the provision of technical assistance—from the IMF, other international organizations, or bilateral government agencies—is an essential component of the effort to promote fiscal transparency through the implementation of the Code.

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