The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

IMF finds Malta’s fiscal transparency at a ‘good or advanced level’ in evaluation report

Julian Bonnici Thursday, 27 September 2018, 16:12 Last update: about 13 months ago

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has found that the standards and elements of sound fiscal transparency in Malta meet a “good or advanced level” in its evaluation of the country.

Speaking at a press conference, IMF representative Torben Hansen, said that Malta reached such a level in 21 out of the 35 principles outlined in the IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Code, describing it as a good assessment when compared with other EU countries who have undergone the evaluation.

Another 12 principles were ranked as a basic level of practice.

The code is founded upon four principal pillars; fiscal reporting; fiscal forecasting and budgeting; fiscal risk analysis and management; and resource revenue management.

While recognising several key strengths of fiscal transparency, particularly within the first two pillars, where Malta ranked amongst the EU average, the evaluation did highlight some areas for improvement.

The report recommended that a fiscal report which provides a consolidated view of the entire public sector be introduced, while tax expenditures could also be more comprehensively reported.

“Budget documentation could also provide more information on the performance of budget entities as as more comprehensive information on revenue and expenditures of extra budgetary units, and on public investment projects, ” the IMF continued.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said that the report was “fair and conducted on technical grounds.”

“It is a good exercise to have peer reviews, in order to know your strengths and weaknesses, ” he continued adding that the ministry would take the recommendations seriously and implement them.

The key recommendations outlined in the IMF’s evaluation are as follows:

* Gradually expanding the institutional coverage of fiscal reports to the public sector

* Publishing a regular report on tax expenditures

* Presenting more comprehensive information on exteabudgetary units and performance information in the budget documentation

* Harmonizing and consolidating presentations of macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts in different reports.

* Strengthening the framework of reporting on and managing public investment.

* Publishing an annual fiscal risk statement that discusses the size and nature of specific fiscal risks, and measures to mitigate them

* Establishing centralized oversight arrangements for public corporations based on a common ownership policy and performance monitoring cycle

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