Restitution of the mission of the IMF and WB team on the evaluation of public investment management in Congo

31 Jan, 2023
Jean-Baptiste Ondaye, Congolese Minister of Economy and Finance, opened, Tuesday, January 31, 2023 in Brazzaville, the meeting to present the conclusions of the joint mission led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB). ), on the assessment of Public Investment Management (PIM), including the consideration of climate change in the Republic of Congo (PIMA/C-PIMA, for short). In the presence of Nicolas Million, Resident Representative of the IMF in Congo, and Claude Wendling, Head of Joint Mission, and Principal Economist at the IMF.
In his remarks, Minister Jean-Baptiste Ondaye recalled the context in which the Government gave the IMF and WB team the task of evaluating public investment management (PIM). “It has been exactly a year since the Congo entered into a three-year program with the IMF, within the framework of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). The execution of this Program thus enables our country to implement structural reforms to find its macro-economic balance and fill its budget deficit for three 3 years (2022-2024)... It goes without saying that this Program, which is in progress, requires an evaluation of our mode of management, in order to identify the bottlenecks of our administration in the implementation of government decisions,” he said.
Construction sites or structural reforms
The projects launched in Congo, within the framework of these structural reforms, respond to several weaknesses identified in the evaluation. These sites are grouped into two orders. Namely: projects specific to public investment and cross-cutting projects on public management.
With regard to specific public investment projects, they relate to sectoral and local strategies currently being updated in relation to the National Development Plan (PND) 2022-2026; on the new legal framework of the GIP with, in particular, a focus on the maturation of the projects; on the finalization of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) framework and on the preparation of the implementing texts after the promulgation of the Law on PPP in December 2022; and on the beginning of the reflection on the maintenance needs within the framework of the “project sheets”.
As regards the cross-cutting projects on public management, they relate to the transition to the Program Budget and the strengthening of budgeting tools; on the strengthening of practical public procurement bodies; on strengthening cash management; and on the transition to accrual accounting and accrual accounting.
  According to Claude Wendling, who presented the results of this mission, “the Congo has undertaken several reform projects in terms of investments. The reform projects already underway, as well as the recommendations of this mission, can allow, by 2023, a significant improvement, in terms of institutional strength, and especially in terms of efficiency, of the institutions of the Management of the 'public investment (GIP)'.
Priority recommendations
Among the priority recommendations (to be integrated into the PIMA recommendations) are, among others: the inclusion of the systematic assessment of impacts related to climate change in the standard methodology of environmental impact studies and the inclusion of project selection criteria sensitive to climate change; the integration of aspects related to climate change in standardized methodologies, for forecasting asset maintenance needs; the alignment of sectoral strategies, currently being developed, with the objectives, targets and actions of the NDC 2021; the operationalization of the interministerial coordination mechanism, presented by the CDN, in particular for the coordination of public investments in favor of the fight against climate change; and identification of climate change related investments in the capital budget.
Other recommendations
  The IMF/WB Mission also recommended that the Government ensure the sustainability of public investment. This implies: the adoption of standardized methodologies, taking into account the impact of climate change, to define maintenance needs and help with budgeting; the implementation of a monitoring of the physical assets of the State (stock accounting); the distinction between the "flow" (new project for which the maintenance needs must be taken into account from the upstream stage) and the "stock" (gradual strengthening of the maintenance budget, without waiting for the inventory of assets to be finalized).
Similarly, this joint mission suggested to the Congolese authorities to develop tools and capacities for a transparent and integrated public investment management cycle. This implies the gradual development of an information system, supporting an integrated bank of investment projects; capacity building within, in particular, pilot public investment structures, sectoral ministries with their Directors of Studies and Planning (DEP) and control structures; and strengthening the transparency of IPM through increased access by the general public and civil society to key information and documents.
It should be noted that three other members of the government were present at the restitution meeting, namely: Ludovic Ngatsé, Minister of Budget, Public Accounts and Public Portfolio; Ingrid Olga Ghislaine Ebouka-Babackas, Minister of Planning, Statistics and Regional Integration; and Arlette Soudan Nonault, Minister of the Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin.
The members of the Government indicated that the Document relating to the restitution of the results of the joint mission, together with the recommendations, will serve as a guide for Congo. “This document has not only revealed the weaknesses of our management method, but also has the virtue of putting us on the path that leads to more viable long-term procedures; which viable procedures are the obligatory passage of the Development that we all call for”, concluded Jean-Baptiste Ondaye.
The Communication Unit of the Ministry of Economy and Finance