Egyptian Parliamentarians and Ministry Officials Lead Roundtable at DAI on Program-Based Budgeting

September 12, 2019

DAI recently hosted a 16-person delegation from the Parliament of Egypt and Egypt’s Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Planning, Monitoring, and Administrative Reform for a roundtable on program-based budgeting. The roundtable was part of a study tour by the group, which is leading fiscal reforms in Egypt that will benefit greatly by applying program-based budgeting, a tool for achieving results, especially in areas such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

“We achieved great success the past two years, but the most important thing is to build on it,” said Prof. Dr. Hussein Mohamed Ahmed Eissa, the Member of Parliament who heads the Planning and Budgeting Committee.

The delegation and study tour are being assisted by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Egypt Macro-Economic Stabilization and Reform Activity (MESR). In addition to Dr. Eissa’s presentation, the roundtable, held at DAI’s offices in Bethesda, Maryland, featured presentations and a question-and-answer session led by:

  • Steven Rozner, USAID Senior Fiscal Advisor;
  • Keith Hall, former director of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (U.S. CBO);
  • Dan Runde, Senior Vice President at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and chair of its Project on Prosperity and Development; and
  • Mitch Mokhtari, MESR Senior Economic Advisor and professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy.

DAI-News-1.jpgMervat Asaad, left, a Member of the Planning and Budget Committee in the Egyptian House of Parliament, discussing revenue resources at the roundtable hosted by DAI.

The roundtable also featured discussion led by Dr. Rasha Abdel-Hakim of USAID Egypt and remarks by DAI President and CEO Jim Boomgard. “These are critical issues and they are fundamentally important to sustainable development,” said Boomgard. “DAI is proud to advance the work being done in this important area.”

“Governance and public financial management are the nuts and bolts of development,” said Jessica Zaman, Director of Middle East Affairs at the USAID Bureau for the Middle East. “These building blocks must be in place for sustainable development to take place.”

The roundtable generated robust input from the parliamentarians and ministry officials. The most discussed topics included USAID’s evolving approach to reforms in public financial management, domestic resource mobilization, and the journey to self-reliance in partner countries; the U.S. CBO’s workings and how it guards against political bias and special interests; and generating the political will and cooperation of elites needed to achieve equitable tax and fiscal reforms.

DAI-News-2.jpgDan Runde facilitates a discussion with Egyptian parliamentarians and ministry officials.

“When the elites feel it, that’s when countries make change,” Runde said. “Ultimately, [equitable fiscal reform] is about political will. People will pay taxes if there is a social contract, while not paying taxes is a silent form of political protest.” To encourage reform and tax compliance, Runde said, governments need to link the broadening of the tax base to improved schools, better water and power services, infrastructure provision, and public safety.

“As MPs we are on the ground and we know the problems of the people, and I believe we are in a transition period in Egypt,” said Sylvia Louis, a member of Parliament’s Sub-Committee for Monitoring the Implementation of Program-Based Budgeting to Support the Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt Vision 2030. “The political will is there. Everything is new and moving; that’s why we need examples to look at.”

The delegation’s study tour began September 9 with discussions at the International Monetary Fund and includes meetings at the World Bank, International Budget Partnership, Fiscal Policy Institute, U.S. CBO, and Office of Management and Budget, plus trips to the Maryland and Pennsylvania statehouses. Its objectives include enhancing interaction between Parliament and key Government of Egypt ministries throughout the budget process; identifying the steps needed to develop a program-based budget that emphasizes key performance indicators, outputs, and outcomes; recognizing the challenges and lessons learned in implementing a program-based budget; identifying avenues for citizen engagement and transparency; learning about fiscal risk in the budget process; and enhancing the capacity of the Parliament of Egypt to evaluate and analyze proposed budgets.

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