Introducing key public finance concepts to support effective advocacy
Nick Travis, Naomi Massie, Manisha Marulasiddappa, Freya Alexander, Thet Aung Lynn
Public Finance for Children (PF4C) can be defined as a body of UNICEF activities to influence the mobilisation, allocation, and utilisation of domestic public resources for equitable results for children. The PF4C training in Myanmar was aimed at providing UNICEF staff with the tools necessary to engage with relevant stakeholders at different stages of the budget cycle to achieve results outlined within the PF4C initiative.
Delivered over three days, the training was designed to provide an introduction to key public finance concepts and an understanding of processes relating to budget preparation, execution and fiscal decentralisation in Myanmar. It focused upon understanding the constraints faced by line ministries and how these affect allocation, spending, and, ultimately, service delivery.
The training was attended by a diverse range of participants with varied interests. It included sector specialists (health, nutrition, WASH) based in Yangon and field officers based in states and regions. This required the delivery to account for these differences and ensure it is pitched at the correct level.
Although the training was based on the global PF4C course, it required a thorough understanding of budget data and documents in Myanmar to ensure that the presentations, discussions, and group exercise were relevant and applicable to the context that the participants operate in. This had to be balanced with ensuring that it is delivered within a short time frame.
Our approach was based on a strong understanding of both the public financial management (PFM) landscape in Myanmar and the methodology developed under UNICEF’s global PF4C initiative. The training was adapted from the global PF4C course which includes 11 modules delivered through a 13-week online course followed by a five-day face-to-face training. This was adapted and narrowed down to be delivered over three days. Five modules were chosen based on participants’ profile and needs.
Each module corresponded to a two-three hour session and included a presentation, discussions and group activities. The sessions were structured to provide a general understanding of PFM concepts contained in the original module but tailored further to provide an understanding of budget processes and PFM systems in Myanmar. The following sessions were covered:
- Introduction to public financial management systems
- Budget cycle and processes in Myanmar
- Politics of budget: stakeholders involved at different stages
- Decentralisation in Myanmar
- Generating evidence: tools for expenditure analysis
Governance and management of public finances affect how every sector within a country operates. Keeping this in mind, the training was aimed at providing a framework to understand links between central agencies of finance and line ministries, how resources are allocated, and how this translates to budget execution and service delivery in Myanmar. It is hoped that capacity building in PFM systems will build new knowledge among UNICEF staff, facilitate engagement with budget processes, and develop their capacity to work with the government’s systems and advocate for more efficient and effective public investments for children.