Africa Region Working Paper Series No. 1
Progress in Public Expenditure Management in Africa:
Evidence from World Bank Surveys
A survey of task managers of Public Expenditure Reviews (PERs) confirms findings of earlier research that PERs are flexible instruments that address the most pressing public management analysis needs faced by client countries. PERs also provide valuable inputs into the macroeconomic dialogue and contribute to changes in budgetary allocations towards the benefit of the social sectors. Should task manager's perceptions about the impact of PERs be correct, then the value added of PERs is very high. On the negative side, the survey found poor Bank staff commitment to quality, uneven coverage of sectors, weak analysis of sectoral problems, and emphasis on procedures to solve budgetary problems. The paper recommends a more structured and forward looking approach to PERs by formalizing a 3-5 year Public Expenditure Analysis Cycle (PEAC) in which priority sectors would be identified in a Concept Paper that initiates the Cycle, and the annual PER exercise would present analysis of some areas of government involvement (or pressing topics) while providing an annual update on the previous year's PER recommendations. Consequently, on an annual basis, the PEAC internal reviews would focus not just on the most recently completed PER, but on the progress made in the Cycle. The PEAC could eventually be integrated into the CAS cycle, where assessment of economic analysis needs would be made more explicit, in parallel with and frequently supporting the Bank's lending strategy.