Thinking about Ministry of Finance/Treasury

We have plenty of literature on central banks, their set-up, their institutional structure etc etc ( see this, this , this, this, this etc for some literature).

However, I was earlier thinking – what about similar literature on Ministries of Finance/Treasury (MOF/T)? Central Banks get much of the focus wrt economic institutions but I have always believed MoF/T is as important (perhaps more). This crisis has thrown them in limelight for all the wrong reasons but a sound MoF/T is as important to an economy as a central banker.

How are MoF/T organised? What are the differences in different MoF/T across countries ? What are the similarities? The differences between developed and developing? Are they converging towards some standard? How do MoF/T and Central Banks coordinate policies in their economies ( we focus too much attention on central banks)? What also interests me tremendously is what made MoF/T give up much of their power to central banks as stature of mentary policy grew? What were the causes? What were the processes? How do they keep a check on central banks?

 We usually get literature on MoF/T as an autobiography of some insider (Swagel points to some ideas) but not much like the research we get on central banks.

Actually what promoted me to write this post is this superb post from Tej Prakash of IMF.  he does provide some insights to above questions like:

While there is no standard model for the organizational structure of a MOF, it is generally agreed that there is a set of core tasks that any MOF should fulfill. This includes (1) budget formulation and implementation, (2) collection, custody, management, accounting, control and disbursement of public monies, (3) management of public assets and liabilities, (4) revenue and expenditure policy and management, and (5) design and implementation of macroeconomic and fiscal policies of  government. MOFs have also added many other tasks such as donor coordination, oversight of domestic financial markets (often by establishing regulatory bodies) [2], managing fiscal risks arising from various sources, financial oversight of public enterprises, and relations with international organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF.

The organizational structure of MOFs is also linked to the political-economy and to the governance structure of the country. Countries with presidential or parliamentary systems will likely have different organizational roles and structures of the MOF

The MOF as an institution also reflects the historical legacy of countries. Many formerly colonized countries inherited the institutional systems of their former rulers.

In many small, developing countries MOFs have been struggling with the increased requirements of their core role as well as of more complex processes and other innovations. MOFs in such economies also lack professional staff in many skill areas, such as treasury management and accounting.

It then looks at some suggestions for small developing economies. Excellent stuff. I need to do some literature survey on this. Anybody knows of such research do let me know.

One Response to “Thinking about Ministry of Finance/Treasury”

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