Public finance reform – financing the 2030 Agenda

Project description

Title: Public finance reform –financing the 2030 Agenda
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Republic of Serbia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia
Overall term: 2018 to 2020

Context

Serbia started accession negotiations with the European Union (EU) in 2014 and is undertaking important political and economic reforms aimed at strengthening the stability of the state and the public finance system. As a signatory to the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), Serbia is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Accordingly, the aim is to enable the public finance system in Serbia to fund the planned measures and reforms. The process of EU accession requires further harmonisation of finance policy, which will be implemented through the Public Financial Management Reform Programme 2016-2020 and its 19 measures. In parallel to the reform process, the principles of good governance such as transparency, efficiency, citizen orientation and policy coordination need to be firmly embedded in the public finance system. In light of the continued insufficient budgetary stability, promoting capacity for domestic revenue mobilisation is one of the biggest challenges facing the Serbian Government.

Objective

The public finance system has been strengthened in terms of transparency, efficiency, citizen orientation and policy coordination for implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Approach

The project aims to strengthen the public finance system in terms of transparency, efficiency, citizen orientation and policy coordination for implementing the 2030 Agenda, in line with the principles of good financial governance. The main topics of the Serbian reform agenda are addressed and the implementation of priority measures is promoted. The activities are primarily based on the Public Financial Management Programme 2016-2020, the tax administration transformation programme and the Strategy for Development of Public Internal Financial Control.

The project advises the Ministry of Finance, the tax administration, the State Audit Institution and the Public Policy Secretariat on technical issues, management and strategy in five key areas: implementing reforms in the area of public finance management, domestic revenue mobilisation, internal and external financial control, budget transparency and policy coordination for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This approach improves the framework for stable growth and has a positive impact on poverty reduction.

The project also provides advice on raising awareness among taxpayers and explaining their rights and obligations, as well as developing a constructive dialogue between society, the private sector and the state. The aim of this is to help build an accountable relationship between citizens and the state.

Results

  • With the support of the project, the Economic Reform Programme for the period 2018-2020 was prepared as a strategic document in dialogue with the European Commission and the EU Member States.
  • Preparation of the progress report for Chapter 32 of the EU acquis (Financial control) was supported by way of own contributions (closing benchmarks).
  • The transparency of the Serbian tax administration has increased. This is reflected in a jointly produced short film about the results achieved in 2017.
  • A draft strategy is in place for a didactic seminar for lecturers at the tax academy.
  • The Ministry of Finance, Public Policy Secretariat and the Head of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group are working together to implement the 2030 Agenda.
  • Based on a needs analysis, a training programme has been developed for the department responsible for combating irregularities and fraud in the handling of EU funds (Anti-fraud coordination service – AFCOS).
  • Mapping of the national strategic framework in relation to the SDGs has been carried out.
  • To raise public awareness of the 2030 Agenda objectives, the well-known Serbian illustrator Bob Živković has created caricatures for all 17 SDGs.