Improving Public Expenditure Management In Sudan:
Sudanese Civil Society Engages In National Debate

Khartoum 19 June, 2008: Ensuring efficient management of public resources for post conflict recovery and the fight against poverty in Sudan was the focus of a workshop held yesterday in Khartoum on “public expenditure management in Sudan”. The event, organized by UNICONS Consulting Ltd. in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), brought together a number of State Ministers of finance from around the country, representatives of academia, media, NGOs, and UN agencies. Three leading national experts, Ms. Abda El Mahdi, Dr. Ahmed Badawi, and Mr. Ibrahim Suleiman, presented papers addressing the issue from various angles.

In a message welcoming participants, the Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, MP Babiker Mohamed Al-Toum stressed that the workshop provides timely update on the very same issues that are being examined by the Parliament in light of the quarterly budget review. “ We hope that that a similar workshop could be organized for parliamentarians as part of an effort to improve the public expenditure management.”.

Addressing the workshop, the UNDP Country Director, Mr. Jerzy Skuratowicz, put the debate in a poverty reduction perspective: “The engagement of the civil society in this debate and its involvement in the elaboration of a poverty reduction strategy paper is a critical component of UNDP’s support to participatory economic policy reform. The overall objective is to improve the national capacity to plan and monitor a comprehensive approach to the reduction of poverty, in line with the Millennium Development Goals.”

In a paper on “ Government Budget: An Analysis for Pro-poor Spending”, Ms. Abda El Mahdi, Unicons consultant, examined various aspects of public spending, including allocations for poverty reduction at the Federal and State levels over the 2007-2008 period. The presentation provided a broad picture of changes introduced by the signing of the CPA, and boosted debate on issues pertaining to equitable growth and poverty reduction strategy, and budget management. Ms. El Mahdi concluded: “It is necessary to point out that political readiness to undertake reforms is a pre-requisite for improved budget management, in general, and expenditures, in particular. Political commitment can expedite or slow progress. Capacities in terms of data and analytical abilities, is another pre-requisite. As such, results can only be expected in the medium to long-term yet, if needed, priority reforms are not undertaken in the short-term even this will not be forthcoming.”

Ms. El Mahdi recommended the following actions: removing data constraints; improving budget credibility; linking policy to budget allocations and resources envelope; building sub-national capacities for financial management; increasing development spending; improving transparency through greater participation of various stakeholders in the budget process; and reaching consensus on the definition of pro-poor spending.

Dr. Ahmed Badawi, Professor at the University of Khartoum, presented a paper titled: “Public Financial Management: Institutional Capacities”, in which he assessed the capacities of the public financial management institutions and procedures, while focusing on the public expenditure management in the Government of National Unity (GONU), but without neglecting budget issues specific to the Government of Southern Sudan.

“In order to discharge its responsibilities effectively the GONU should ensure that institutions and processes in place could provide: (i) clear functions for different levels of government ; (ii) clear expenditure assignments and revenue entitlements; (iii) clear legislations for spending prioritization and authorization; (iv) clear mechanisms for expenditure commitment and execution ; (v) effective, accurate and timely reporting to ensure transparency and accountability; and (vi) effective legislations to ensure fiscal laws enforcement and in turn adherence to fiscal discipline”, Dr. Badawi recommended.

“Wealth Sharing and Intergovernmental Transfers in Sudan” was the title of third paper presented by Mr. Ibrahim Suleiman. “ In order to ensure stability of the state, the society, the economy and narrow the disparities in economic development and in the availability of social services, it is imperative to adopt just and equitable criteria for the distribution of wealth in the Sudan. It is also equally important to launch comprehensive rural development programs especially in the traditional sector of the economy where more than 60% of the country’s population live. This sector has witnessed serious deterioration in its agricultural, services and commercial activities.”

Yesterday’s workshop was facilitated by Professor Abdallah Ahmed Abdallah, from the University of Khartoum. A second workshop on “Institutional Mapping of Economic Policy Making and Government Institutions” is due to take place next Thursday, 26 June, at 9 am in Khartoum, at the Friendship Hall.

These series of workshops, debates and seminars are part of a close partnership with Sudanese governments, institutions and civil society. UNDP, in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), assists the government of Sudan in policy reform through the "Participatory Economic policy reform" project that focuses on promoting intra-Sudanese dialogue on the allocation and use of public resources.


For more information please contact:

UNICONS Consultancy Ltd:

Ms. Maha El-Shafie, UNDP Sudan, Senior programme Associate:

Ms. Aicha Elbasri, Communications Manager:

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