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Fiscal planning and gender budgeting

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  • 1. FISCAL PLANNING AND GENDER BUDGETING IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: AN IMPLEMENTATION ROADMAPBy Jean-Marc Lepain, Public Finance Management Specialist(jlepain@yahoo.fr) April 2010Executive SummaryMost developing countries have adopted a progressive approach of social and economicdevelopment that takes gender issues into consideration. Many of them have set-up a Ministry ofWomen’s Affairs addressing those issues through specific policies. However, decades of experienceshow that such policies usually remain highly ineffective because they are not integrated into anoverall social and economic strategy and do not have proper instruments and mechanisms for beingimplemented. It is now widely believed that socially responsible budgeting, if properly implemented,can offer an adequate answer to such a situation.This paper presents the view that, in order to be successful, gender budgeting must be integrated atall stages of fiscal planning and that the institutional and regulatory framework as well as the deliverymechanisms required for its implementation need much more attention than they are usually given.After more than a decade of implementation a few important lessons have been learnt and itappears that a more comprehensive approach must be taken.  Gender responsible budgeting should not start with budget formulation but should encompass the complete budget cycle. Successful gender responsible budgeting requires that the gender dimension be taken into consideration at all stages of fiscal planning: sector planning and social and economic strategy, fiscal policy, and budget formulation.  Gender responsible budgeting requires a strong institutional and regulatory framework based on a consensus across the whole Government, plus a Gender Management System in Government that defines the respective responsibilities of all stakeholders in data collection and data analysis, policy formulation, social and economic planning, articulation of sector programs, fiscal policy, budget preparation and budget implementation reporting. Such a system cannot function based only on the goodwill of stakeholders. It requires implementing complex sets of regulation.  A proper sequencing of Public Finance Management reforms is an important success factor of gender responsible budgeting. Gender budgeting is difficult to achieve without a certain amount of program budgeting, clear sector expenditure assignment and strong fiscal policies. The development of sector Medium Term Expenditure Frameworks can be of great help in implementing gender budgeting.
  • 2.  Gender fiscal policies are often formulated by gender policy specialists with good knowledge of gender issues but little knowledge either of the fiscal planning cycle or of sector policy planning. As a result, a lot of attention is given to policy issues while delivery mechanisms and more specifically public finance regulatory instruments are ignored.  Fully-fledged gender responsible budgeting requires strong capacity but in most developing countries capacity building remains an issue even for traditional budgeting. Strategies for successful gender responsible budgeting must take into consideration the existing capacity without overtaxing the system. It usually requires a multi-year approach in which the system expands from sector to sector.A. The institutional and Regulatory framework 1. Institutional issues and respective responsibilities of Government agenciesGender responsible budgeting cannot exist without a commitment from the Government to addressgender issues in a larger context. This can only been done within a wider system that monitors allaspects of gender policies in the country. This system is called the Government’s GenderManagement System or the Gender Management Framework. Before starting gender responsiblebudgeting, it is essential to ensure that all the elements of that system are not only in place but areinterconnected and able to play seamlessly their role at all stages of fiscal planning withoutdisruption of the PFM system.To achieve such an objective, it is important to define responsibilities of the Ministry of Women’sAffairs (or any proxy), the Ministry of Finance and further line ministries in relation to planning, fiscalpolicy, budgeting and project implementation.The role and responsibilities of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (or a proxy agency such as theMinistry of Social Affairs, etc.) can be defined as follows:  To prepare an assessment of the gender situation in the country;  To define the overall policy addressing gender issues and priorities to ensure that the most pressing issues receive attention and are adequately funded;  To define requirements for gender data collection and to ensure that gender data are available for all economic and social sectors;  To provide to line-ministries technical assistance or expertise for defining sector gender policies;  To monitor implementation of gender sensitive projects;  To consult with the Ministry of Finance on all aspects of gender responsible budgeting;
  • 3.  To provide expertise and guidelines to the Ministry of Finance for gender aspects of the annual fiscal declaration and for integration of gender issues in budget call circulars;  To agree with line-ministries and ministries of finance on a set of sector indicators as well as general out-puts and outcomes that will allow progress made in addressing gender issues to be monitored in each sector;  To provide an interface to donors for gender projects, even when these projects are implemented by other agencies;The role and responsibilities of the Ministry of Finance can be defined as follows:  To coordinate the sequencing of Public Finance Management reforms in a way that will facilitate the implementation of gender responsible budgeting (Gender budgeting must become part of the overall PFM reform programme);  To include a gender policy statement in its annual fiscal policy declaration;  To include instructions for gender responsible budgeting in its budget call circulars;  To ensure that line-ministries integrate the gender dimension in their medium term and long term planning and in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework;  To ensure that priority gender projects are properly funded and to define fiscal targets for gender-sensitive expenditure;  To include gender priorities in the consolidated Medium Term Policy Framework (MTEF);  To ensure that all ministries apply instructions for the drafting of budget requests including rejecting budget requests when they do not meet minimum criteria;  To ensure that during budget hearings gender issues receive enough attention;  To ensure that the implementation of programme budgeting (wherever it is feasible) goes along with a gender dimension defining sector by sector budget norms and specific outputs and outcomes;  To ensure that all major investment projects have a gender impact assessment;  To provide a gender impact assessment and a report on progress made for the implementation of gender responsible budgeting in its annual budget execution report.  To ensure that all Sector Expenditure Assignments integrate the gender aspect and define clear responsibilities between the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and line-ministries for gender specific projects and programmes.The role and responsibilities of line-ministries can be defined as follows:  To integrate gender issues in the overall sector strategy by defining clear priorities to rectify gender imbalance in access to services, share of public expenditure and development of specific programs targeting women.
  • 4.  To ensure that the data collected for monitoring service delivery includes data that allows disaggregation by sex of the beneficiaries and that proper data is collected and centralized to allow gender-disaggregated beneficiary assessment;  To implement the Ministry of Finance’s budget call instructions for gender responsible budgeting;  To integrate the gender dimension in the definition of their programs and investment priorities;  To define for each program or activity indicators of gender balance;  To develop gender responsible planning and more specifically a gender responsible MTEF;  To raise gender awareness in the delivery of services;  To internally address gender issues in human resources management and more specifically in recruitment, pay and grading programmes, training and promotion, etc. and to ensure that human resources policies are implemented at the sub-levels of the organization.The role and responsibilities of other agencies:Cabinet, President or Prime Minister Office, National Assembly and General Auditor Office all have arole in the implementation of gender responsible budgeting that needs to be clearly defined. 2. Legal and regulatory frameworkGender responsible budgeting must be considered part of a Gender Management Framework, alsocalled Gender Management System, which is implemented at the highest level of the State.Ideally gender responsible budgeting should be integrated in the Public Finance Law. Practically arevision of the legal framework is long and cumbersome and most countries prefer to addressinstitutional and policy issues through regulation. Clearly the responsibility assignment between thedifferent agencies involved in gender budgeting is so complex that it requires precise regulation thatmust be issued by the highest authorities of the State.Two options exist: either one of the highest institutions of the state (president or prime ministeroffice for example) take the responsibility to issue detailed regulation, or, as a second option, theCabinet or another high level agency makes a binding policy declaration and intrust itsimplementation to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs or its next proxy for implementation with cleardevolution of authority. Then the Ministry of Women’s Affairs signs a memorandum ofunderstanding with the Ministry of Finance and subsequently with each line-ministry that becomesinvolved in gender budgeting.
  • 5. B. An integrated view of gender sensitive fiscal planningGender responsible fiscal planning and reporting must integrate the following elements of theplanning and budgeting cycle: data collection and analysis, policy formulation, sector planning andnation-wide socio-economic development strategy, fiscal policy, budget preparation and budgetexecution reporting. 1. Data collection and data managementClear and sound gender policy cannot be developed and implemented unless data are collected andanalysed to allow an informed picture of the gender situation in the country and to identifyoutstanding issues. As a consequence the collection of data on gender issues must be considered asone of the highest priorities of responsible gender budgeting. International experience has shownthat gender responsible budgeting quickly loses its pertinence unless it is backed by reliable data thatallows the definition of unquestionable priorities.Sound data management cannot be performed without an institutional framework that defines clearresponsibility in data collection, data storage, data management, data sharing, and data analysis.The level of suitable data centralization and the ways and means of data sharing are two difficultissues that require attention. Usually, Ministries of Women Affaires advocate a centralized systemwhereas line-ministries want to keep ownership of their data. 2. Implementation of Gender budgetingFor reasons of human and fiscal capacity, international experience shows that the implementation ofgender budgeting across all sectors is neither possible nor desirable. Most countries prefer to focuson a few sectors and expand their number within a multi-year framework. Typically the first sectorsto be considered include: health, education, agriculture and justice. The choice of sector dependson a country-wide gender assessment across all sectors that will help defining priorities. 3. Social and economic planningExperience shows that gender responsible budgeting cannot be implemented without genderresponsible planning because planning is the primary activity that guides all budget decisions. Oftengender responsible budgeting fails because this point has not been taken into consideration.In most national development strategies, gender is defined as one of the two cross-cutting issues(the other one is environment) that should be taken into consideration by sector specific strategies.This means that gender issues must be taken into consideration in each sector and that during thefinalization of the plan, all sectors must have gender strategies and a mechanism to address genderissues.However instructions must be given to the national planning authorities on the desirable outcomesof gender planning; the planning authorities are then in a position to issue jointly with the Ministry of
  • 6. Finance or the Ministry of Women’s Affairs instructions to line-ministries regarding their planningauthority. 4. Gender impact assessmentAll implemented programs and all investment projects must be presented to the Ministry of Financewith a gender impact assessment and clear gender-related output and outcome whenever feasible orrelevant. Such gender impact assessments require a methodology that should be developed incooperation with a gender-specialist. It is important that it includes quantified indicators that makemonitoring and evaluation easier. 5. Gender Situation Assessment and the costing of gender policyGood gender planning requires first an assessment of the gender situation in the country and thedefinition of priorities: often such priorities include, access to clean water, reduction of womenmortality in childbirth, mother primary care, health insurance coverage, girls enrolment in school,vocational training, access to credit; land titling, violence made to women, domestic accidents, equalopportunity issues, employment in civil service, etc.In most cases, the State does not have the fiscal capacity to address all issues therefore prioritiesmust be defined. The definition of priorities cannot be left to each sector and preference of thepublic must be taken into consideration through a participatory approach. Usually, in developingcountries, poverty reduction strategies developed under the auspice of the World Bank and thedonor community provide the framework for such participatory approach.It might be a good idea to start the implementation of gender responsible budgeting with anestimate of how much the existing budget is gender-biased. Over the years a number ofmeasurement tools have been developed with the idea of providing a gender-sensitive analysis ofthe budget. Main standard methodologies include:  Gender-disaggregated beneficiary assessments  Gender-disaggregated public expenditure incidence analysis  Gender-aware policy appraisal  Gender-aware budget statementMethodologies for gender-sensitive budget analysis have often been defined within a certainnational context highly influenced by the perception of national issues. This made thesemethodologies difficult to transpose into another national context. As an example, the gender-awarebudget statement, which is less influenced by issues of the developed world, includes the followingcomponents:  Gender equality-targeted expenditure: the share of expenditure targeted to women to help redress past inequality;
  • 7.  Women’s priority public services: expenditure share devoted to public services of highest priority in reducing the burdens on poor women;  Government’s gender management spending: share of expenditure devoted to Government’s offices that attend to women’s issues;  Women’s priority income transfers: transfers used for reducing women’s income inequality  Gender Support in public sector employment;  Gender balance in business support: shares directed to each gender (training, loans, subsidies) in agriculture, manufacturing and services;  Gender balance in public sector contracts.In developing countries, the choice of a methodology depends on the availability of data and thetime required for its collection. In such countries, implementation of gender responsible budgetingdepends greatly on foreign technical assistance which is a scarce resource often better used fordeveloping policies, regulation and delivery mechanisms rather than hindsight analysis. A summaryassessment of the budget might be useful because it is good to know if in the past some sectors havebetter gender-balanced policies and budget and to have a rough measurement of the gender bias inthe budget it might provide a benchmark to measure future progress. 6. Fiscal PolicyThe Fiscal Policy Department seems to be the best candidate in a Ministry of Finance to take the leadon gender responsible budgeting and it might be a good recommendation to have a least one personin charge of such issues. Fiscal policy is involved with gender responsible budgeting at several levels:  National Development Strategies require a costing that ensures their fiscal feasibility in connection with a Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) and a Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). Ten prospective multi-year fiscal envelopes can be allocated for a multi- year period. Gender-sensitive MTFF and MTEF are very useful instruments of gender responsible budgeting.  The Fiscal Policy Department seems to be in the best position to perform gender budget analysis of past budgets, to formulate fiscal targets to address gender-imbalance in budget spending and to include a gender analysis in the Budget Execution Report.  Another important role of the Fiscal Policy Department is to prepare the fiscal policy declaration usually presented to the Cabinet and the Parliament based on which fiscal envelopes are allocated to sectors and line-ministries. It is of high importance that this Fiscal Policy Declaration includes a section on gender responsible budgeting. It is based on the content of that section that later the Budget Department will issue instructions in its budget call circular that will give details to line-ministries on how to prepare budget requests.
  • 8. 7. Budget formulationBudget formulation goes through two stages: the first stage is the preparation of budget requests byline-ministries. The second stage is the compilation of the final budget by the Budget Department ofthe Ministry of Finance.The Budget Department must first issue detailed instructions for preparation of budget requests. Forgender responsible budgeting, these instructions are likely to include:  A general declaration on how the ministry addresses gender issues in its budget request;  Instructions to monitor sector specific gender indicators;  Instructions to correct gender imbalance in sector spending;  Indicators to ensure alignment of sector expenditure with gender priorities;  A gender impact assessment of main policies and programmes;  A gender impact assessment of main investments. 8. Budget normsBudget norms are difficult to apply to gender responsible budgeting except in the health sectorwhere is easy to follow funds allocated to family planning, mother care, maternal mortality, breastcancers detection, etc. 9. ReportingIn order to develop the capacity for reporting gender expenditure, the Ministry of Finance might addnew coding blocks in the budget classification. Modification of the Chart of Account is not advisable.What is recommended is a proper linkage between the budget classification and the chart of accountto allow disaggregation of program expenditure by gender sub-components when such componentscan be identified. When components cannot be identified, expenditure can be disaggregated usingratio based on a sample methodology.The complexity of reporting expenditure on a gender basis should not be underestimated and itusually takes years to implement a good system. 10. Monitoring and EvaluationThe regulatory framework must define the respective responsibilities of all involved agencies inmonitoring the gender component of programs and activities through budget execution and servicedelivery.
  • 9. As already said, the Ministry of Finance through its Fiscal Policy Department has the limited role ofpreparing the Budget Execution Report that should include a section on gender budgeting. Thatsection should monitor progress made in implementation and in correcting imbalance. Effectivenessof some sector policies should be evaluated.The General Auditor might play a role in monitoring and evaluation by checking that results are inline with objectives. Generally speaking auditing of gender responsible budgeting uses the samemethodology as auditing of program budgeting. 11. Capacity buildingAlthough in an implementation phase, there is no other option than to provide specific training andcapacity building to budget officers and other officers involved in gender responsible budgeting, abetter approach is to integrate gender issues in the general capacity building plan of the Ministry ofFinance and of line-ministries.