Economists working on fiscal policy and fiscal management need a good understanding of how the expenditure side of the budget is planned, prepared, and executed.1 This publication is designed for those interested in the macroeconomic impact of such budget processes, rather than in the perhaps more familiar microeconomic perspective of expenditure policies.
Before considering how the expenditure side of the government’s budget is planned, prepared, and executed, it is necessary first to clarify the coverage and sources of data on public spending. This brief section discusses three critical, if basic, questions: What is the appropriate definition of government expenditure from a macroeconomic perspective? What are the data sources for public expenditure aggregates? How can expenditure projections for a short-term perspective best be prepared?
A full understanding of the budget planning and preparation system is essential, not just to derive expenditure projections but to be able to advise policymakers on the feasibility and desirability of specific budget proposals, from a macroeconomic or microeconomic perspective. It is much easier to control government expenditures at the “upstream” point of budget preparation than later during the execution of the budget.
For fiscal economists, the key issues on budget execution are always whether deficit targets are likely to be met, and whether any budget adjustments (both on the revenue and expenditure sides) agreed at the preparation stage (or in-year) are being implemented as planned. On the expenditure side of the budget, the key issues are whether the outturn is likely to be within the budget figure; whether any changes in expenditure priorities (as against past patterns) are being implemented in specific areas as planned; and whether any problems are being encountered in budget execution, such as the buildup of payment arrears.
As an integral element of public expenditure management, governments need to develop cash planning and management to keep within budgeted expenditure in cash terms; to prevent unanticipated borrowing that might disrupt monetary policies; and to help identify the need for in-year remedial fiscal action. Variations in in-year actual versus planned patterns of expenditure are not without cost. Even if the total limit on borrowing were not exceeded over a fiscal year, higher-than-planned expenditures within a short period may lead to a surge in borrowing and can disrupt the achievement of monetary policy objectives.
Traditionally, economics training in public finances has focused more on tax than public expenditure issues, and within expenditure, more on policy considerations than the more mundane matters of public expenditure management. For many years, the IMF's Public Expenditure Management Division has answered specific questions raised by fiscal economists on such missions. Based on this experience, these guidelines arose from the need to provide a general overview of the principles and practices observed in three key aspects of public expenditure management: budget preparation, budget execution, and cash planning. For each aspect of public expenditure management, the guidelines identify separately the differing practices in four groups of countries - the francophone systems, the Commonwealth systems, Latin America, and those in the transition economies. Edited by Barry H. Potter and Jack Diamond, this publication is intended for a general fiscal, or a general budget, advisor interested in the macroeconomic dimension of public expenditure management.
The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Delegating fiscal decision making power to sub-national governments has been an area of interest for both academics and policymakers given the expectation that it may lead to better and more efficient provision of public goods and services. Decentralization has, however, often occurred on the expenditure and less on the revenue side, creating “vertical fiscal imbalances” where sub-national governments’ expenditures are not financed through their own revenues. The mismatch between own revenues and expenditures may have consequences for public finance performance. This study constructs a large sample of general and subnational level fiscal data beginning in 1980 from the IMF’s Government Finance Statistics Yearbook. Extending the literature to the balance sheet approach, this paper examines the effects of vertical fiscal imbalances on government debt. The results indicate that vertical fiscal imbalances are relevant in explaining government debt accumulation suggesting a degree of caution when promoting fiscal decentralization. This paper also underlines the role of data covering the general government and its subectors for comprehensive analysis of fiscal performance.
Climate change is already a systemic risk to the global economy. While there is a large body of literature documenting potential economic consequences, there is scarce research on the link between climate change and sovereign risk. This paper therefore investigates the impact of climate change vulnerability and resilience on sovereign bond yields and spreads in 98 advanced and developing countries over the period 1995–2017. We find that the vulnerability and resilience to climate change have a significant impact on the cost government borrowing, after controlling for conventional determinants of sovereign risk. That is, countries that are more resilient to climate change have lower bond yields and spreads relative to countries with greater vulnerability to risks associated with climate change. Furthermore, partitioning the sample into country groups reveals that the magnitude and statistical significance of these effects are much greater in developing countries with weaker capacity to adapt to and mitigate the consequences of climate change.