UNDP supports bold reforms in Mauritius

Budget Speech UNDP_Maur Oct 2013

Since its independence in 1968, Mauritius has successfully transformed itself from a low income, mono-crop agricultural economy based largely on sugarcane, to an upper middle-income country with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of US$8,570 in 2012. Economic growth has been accompanied by significant progress in the areas of human development, governance and economic freedom and Mauritius has remained resilient in the wake of the world economic crisis. These results have been made possible through the implementation of a bold reform agenda to which a transition from a culture of administration to a focus on performance in the public sector has progressively contributed.

Highlights

  • Since the introduction of Programme-Based Budgeting, Mauritius has put in place a budget management process which, by linking public resources to clear and agreed outcomes and outputs and providing a framework for reporting on results, has encouraged stronger accountability on performance.
  • In early 2012 the Government of Mauritius decided to initiate the formulation of a 10yr National Plan, termed the ‘Economic and Social Transformation Plan (ESTP)’.

Emmanuel Bor, Technical Advisor (PFM), Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Budget Strategy and Management Directorate explains “Strengthening performance information in the budget system is a good thing, making people accountable and knowing who are the delivery units responsible for achieving outputs is a good idea, but they are good ideas only if you have the preconditions met, which was the case for Mauritius,”

With the support of UNDP, PBB was introduced in 2007 in what the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) calls the ‘big bang’ approach; meaning that it was rolled out to all Ministries and Departments simultaneously rather than being piloted in selected institutions. PBB is an integrated approach, which has changed the focus of the Mauritian budgetary process from an input-based annual activity to a performance-based exercise with a key objective: improving expenditure efficiency and effectiveness by systematically linking funding to results through the use of performance information. Embedded in a 3-year Medium Term Expenditure Framework, PBB is aimed at allocating public resources in line with government’s priorities and improving the performance orientation of the budget process.

The PBB reform has received continuous technical support from UNDP since the preparatory phase in areas such as designing the reform; preparation of all the necessary legislative changes (e.g. modification of Finance and Audit Act); adapting the information management system to be able to measure execution of budget under the PBB format; formulation of the PBB Manual (which is part of the financial regulations); working directly with the Ministries to design their programmatic structure and the training of over 800 civil servants.

Since the introduction of Programme-Based Budgeting, Mauritius has put in place a budget management process which, by linking public resources to clear and agreed outcomes and outputs and providing a framework for reporting on results, has encouraged stronger accountability on performance. Under UNDP’s guidance, all Ministries prepared 3-year PBB strategic plans for the first time in 2011. An evaluation of public finance management undertaken in 2011 demonstrated significant progress in comparison to a previous evaluation prior to the PBB project in 2006.  In addition, Mauritius has received international recognition for its budget reforms, leading to requests to share its experience with several other countries. In promotion of South-South collaboration, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development organized study tours on PBB reform for three delegations of senior budget officials from the Maldives, Zanzibar and Burkina Faso in 2013.

In addition, UNDP supported parallel performance-related reforms in the area of Human Resource Management to further strengthen the PBB Approach. Another important parallel perform was in the area of Investment Project Planning (IPP). The IPP reform enabled the government to identify successful investment projects in line with the longer-term strategic direction for Mauritius through:
·    Setting up the Project Planning Committee; an inter-Ministerial committee mandated to assess project proposals before they are considered for budget.
·    Investment in staff training
·    Development of the ‘Investment Project Process Manual’, which defines the evaluation criteria necessary to evaluate a new project.
Emmanuel Bor, Technical Adviser (PFM) states:  “If I could summarise the new project in a paragraph, I would say that we are building on what has been done on the PBB to improve accountability of public officers at different levels. One dimension for example is to work on mechanisms to improve accountability towards Parliament and citizens. So with UNDP technical assistance we will be introducing the tools to enable accountability to happen e.g. by supporting Ministries and Departments to generate and publish an ‘Annual Report’ which would include analytical information to explain if targets are met, any gaps and corrective actions.”

In early 2012 the Government of Mauritius decided to initiate the formulation of a 10yr National Plan, termed the ‘Economic and Social Transformation Plan (ESTP)’. The ESTP is expected to enhance the benefits of PBB by integrating the 3yr budget into a longer-term perspective. The ESTP will set out the road map to the country’s future and provide the physical infrastructure and human resources to support progress and development at an accelerated pace in a sustainable and equitable way, moving Mauritius from an upper income country to a high income country (GNI of $12,615 per capita) by 2022. Whilst the ESTP is intended to generate significant economic growth in Mauritius, the question of ‘equitable growth’ is also of concern to the Government; therefore the second objective of the ESTP is related to reducing the Gini Coefficient with sustainability of growth as the third objective. In 2013, the ‘National Strategic Transformation Commission (NSTC)’ chaired by the PM and composed of Ministers was set up to provide political oversight of the preparation of the ESTP. The project also benefits from expertise from the Coordinator of the Pole on Public Finance and Development Strategies, UNDP Africa Regional Centre.

Finally, in the pipeline in 2013 is the development of a new and innovative learning management system (LMS), tailor-made for the Mauritius Civil Service through an e-learning platform. UNDP would support the setting up of the LMS, writing and designing a first course on Basic Public Finance Management (PFM), and setting up of the web-based interface with the goal of making the first PFM course accessible to 10,000 civil servants.