Chapter managing and monitoring budget implementation 1 A. Budgetary accounting

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Arrears Issues

A number of transition economies and developing countries face arrears

problems. Arrears pose problems to suppliers and have disruptive effects on public

expenditure management. When the government accumulates arrears to private

suppliers, private suppliers, at first, face financial difficulties. Then, they develop an

appropriate billing strategy, such as requesting to be paid before they delivering,

overbilling invoices, and bribing line ministries and/or Treasury officials responsible for

the management of the waiting list of arrears.


Arrears have many causes, such as insufficient commitment control or the

perverse effects of a cash rationing system that do not take into account commitments

already made.  Improved commitment monitoring is generally required.

However, in many cases, the decision or the event that generates an obligation

to pay, is upstream to the commitment in the budgetary sense. Arrears in utilities

services consumption are frequent. Generally, state-owned utilities (and even private

companies) do not stop providing services to government agencies even when they are

not paid. Limiting arrears generation in this sector requires both realistic estimates of

annual consumption and internal management measures (such as installing meters,

regulating phone calls). The measures must be imperatively identified at the budget

preparation stage.

Limiting arrears generation needs a combination of measures such as realistic

budget estimates, internal management measures, control of personnel staff,

control/monitoring of commitments and especially of forward commitments, and

decisions related to entitlements.

The estimation of generation of arrears is an important issue in some countries.

Arrears are sometimes distinguished from float, which corresponds to the usual

processing period to outstanding invoices. A stricter definition is to say that any invoice

due on one date and not paid on that date must be included in the stock of arrears. An

appropriate budgetary accounting as suggested above is necessary for establishing a

permanent system for monitoring arrears.

When a country faces arrears problems, it should prioritize of payments on the

basis of the date on which invoices are due and on their order of precedence. In some

developing countries, programs to reduce the stock of arrears led to questionable

practices, such as the generation of new invoices which were given the privileged status

of arrears, the payment of expenditures despite their noncompliance with to procurement

regulations, choices based on patronage. Strict control of the judicial regularity of arrears

payments is required. The audit offices should scrutinize such operations.




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