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Country-Led Reform: the Fragile State Context and example of Timor-Leste


July 16, 2013

Doug Hadden, VP Products

I found this fascinating speech from Emilia Pires, the Minister of Finance from Timor-Leste held at the Australian National University. Timor-Leste is a FreeBalance customer and user of our Government Resource Planning (GRP) software. Minister Pires describes the conditions facing Timor-Leste on independence an lessons learned. She describes the "new deal for engagement in fragile states." It interesting how much her experience in putting policy to practice echos the work of Matt Andrews. (You may want to forward to the introduction at around minute 15).


The critical takeaways, in my view are:

  • "Public financial management is the engine room" for State building – this is enabled through transparency that builds trust
  • Reform needs to be country-led, it's impossible to deal with multiple donors who are focused on their own objectives and more concerned about internal reporting than outcomes – not to mention the stampede of reports
  • There is a big disconnection between donor developed programs and implementation, the implementors often have no idea what the designers had in mind and are faced with overly-complicated indicators
  • Capacity building is key to improving public financial management
  • She rejects the notion that PFM reform should take 40 years
  • Donors should use country systems – you can't find out where the leaks in a pipe are until you use the pipe
  • It is difficult, in the post-conflict situation, to consider using "best practices" that rate "process" rather than being focused on outcomes

The Government of Timor-Leste has leveraged technology from FreeBalance for "leapfrog" transparency. Minister Pires mentioned budget, procurement and government results portals.

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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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