In the remote district of Jajarkot in Nepal, a disabled man named Bhim Bahadur Singh recently started receiving a monthly disability allowance. He had no knowledge that he was even entitled to this payment until a civil society organization came to his village and raised awareness about these rightful entitlements.
In another district, Palpa, it used to take weeks for government school teachers to receive their salary. Now, teachers receive their salary on the same day that the District Treasury Comptroller Office (DTCO) issues their cheques, due to the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Meanwhile, for communities in Baglung, the municipal budget no longer signifies lengthy, confusing and arbitrary numbers. They have come to realize that these numbers mean development, their own as well as that of the country.
Reforms in the way public funds are managed in Nepal have come about because of the concerted efforts led by the government and supported by development partners and civil society to promote better public financial management (PFM) in the country. It is a key element in the government’s efforts to strengthen governance, optimize outputs from public resources and ensure inclusive and broad-based development.
PFM Reforms in Nepal
Strengthening public financial management means ensuring performance, transparency and accountability in the use of public funds.
In Nepal, this includes ‘supply side’ initiatives to strengthen systems and processes as well as ‘demand side’ interventions to strengthen institutions of accountability and civil society to enhance their oversight of PFM processes.
Supply side initiatives include strengthening systems and processes like supporting the implementation of treasury single account (TSA) system, which is at the same time a cash management optimization system and an IT system that tracks down the spending process through payments; the strengthening of public sector accounting through progressive implementation of international standards; the modernization of external audit in the public sector through support of the Office of the Auditor General in Nepal (OAGN) and strengthening the PEFA Secretariat. Demand-led initiatives include supporting civil society organizations’ use of social accountability to make sure public spending responds to actual demands and that results are commensurate to commitments.
PFM reform has progressively become a top priority for development partners in Nepal. The establishment of a Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) was an important step in harmonizing development partner support, with funding from DFID, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia DFAT, USAID, EU and administered by the World Bank.