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News Balance: This week’s PFM news #6


Welcome to News Balance, our weekly blog recapping the changing face of public financial management (PFM) and more.

From government contracts, tax reforms, updated procurement policy, ERP fails, to tech takeovers, FreeBalance is your one stop shop for staying up to date on technology and PFM reform around the world.

We’ll also touch on stories that relate to topics such as big data, Smart Cities, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, sustainability, cloud computing and information we believe will be of interest to all levels of government and its citizens.

Questions? Concerns? Story ideas? Feel free to drop me a line at, I’m always looking for new content to enhance the experience at

South Africa regains ‘biggest economy’ status

More than two years after losing its status as Africa’s largest economy largest, South Africa is back on top. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the size of South Africa’s economy is worth about $301 billion at the rand’s current exchange rate, while Nigeria’s GDP is $296 billion. This news comes thanks to the rand gaining more than 16% against the dollar since the start of 2016. (…read further)

Banking association backs financial transparency bill

A trade association representing the largest U.S. commercial banks is backing legislation aimed at putting an end to anonymous shell companies. “We believe the bill would assist public sector efforts to identify money laundering and terrorist financing through the disclosure of the beneficial owners of corporations,” wrote The Clearing House Association in a letter. (…read further)

New Zealand eyes tougher tax laws on foreign trusts

In response to the Panama Papers, new recommendations by tax expert John Shewan (appointed to lead an inquiry) could see tougher international tax laws around foreign trusts in New Zealand. The country’s revenue minister Michael Woodhouse said the proposals include new disclosure requirements for foreign trusts and suggest a register that is searchable by the country’s Department of Internal Affairs and the police. (…read further)

Alibaba aiding foreign tech firms into China

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is looking at ways to help foreign technology firms overcome the obstacles they face when trying to enter the Chinese market. From joint ventures, to partnerships through its cloud computing programs, Alibaba has already signed up 11 partners with its AliLaunch initiative. (…read further)

Singapore growth rate slips following Brexit

With heightened global uncertainty following the Brexit vote last June, Singapore has cut its economic growth forecasts. According to a report released from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, GDP growth projections for 2016 are at 1-2%, down from 1-3%. (…read further)

Bank issues guide to developing a Smart City

Building a Smart City starts with collaboration both within and outside the government, according to a new report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). From removing silos within governments, engaging citizens in the process of developing a sustainable city, to managing new technology, the bank looks at more than 50 examples of how cities around the world are implementing intelligent solutions. (…read further)

Solomon Islands, Vanuatu on verge of growth

The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu should see significant economic growth in the near future. With the World Bank already committing US$164.47 million to the countries, Guido Rurangwa, the World Bank’s new Country Representative for Solomon Islands and Vanuatu said, “I’m looking forward to working closely with the people and governments of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to continue to grow the World Bank’s work in areas including transport, energy and agriculture, while also offering assistance in potential new areas for development and improvement.” (…read further)

Ghost workers in Uganda get the axe

In an attempt at cracking down on corruption, the Ugandan government has slashed more than 5,500 ‘ghost workers’ from its civil service payroll. Tackling corruption in the country was an election promise from President Yoweri Museveni who was re-elected for a fifth term in May. Uganda ranks 139th out of 168 countries in Transparency International’s corruption index. (…read further)

Internet of Things to have huge impact on African

It looks like Africa is next to join the Internet of Things (IoT) craze. According to Gartner’s 2016 Hype Cycle for information and communications technology (ICT) in Africa, IoT will reach the mainstream in the next two to five years and is expected to have the largest impact on local businesses. “The level of interest in, and the pace of adoption of, ICT in Africa are increasing, and, although Africa’s insurance sector is small, it’s a key indicator of where IoT opportunities exist and will prove long-lasting,” said William Hahn, principal analyst at Gartner. (…read further)

EU agrees to waive fiscal fines for Spain and Portugal

Spain and Portugal are getting another shot at fixing their financial woes after breaking European Union deficit rules. Earlier this week, the European Council confirmed new deadlines for both countries to correct their deficits, which are above the ‘safe’ level of 3% GDP defined by EU fiscal rules. (…read further)

Iran bans Pokémon Go

Guess Iran will have to wait to catch ’em all! Citing security concerns about the use of location-based virtual reality technology, Iran has banned the mobile game, Pokémon Go. “Any game that wants to operate nationwide in Iran needs to obtain permission from the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, and the Pokémon Go app has not yet requested such a permission,” the semi-official Isna news agency quoted Abolhasan Firouzabadi, the head of Iran’s supreme council of virtual space, as saying. (…read further)

IMF, Egypt agree to $12B Extended Fund Facility

In support of Egypt’s economic reform program, the government, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and the IMF have reached a staff-level agreement on a three-year Extended Fund Facility in the amount of SDR 8.5966 billion (about US $12 billion). According to the IMF, “Egypt is a strong country with great potential but it has some problems that need to be fixed urgently.” (…read further)

U.S. government eyes open source tech projects

If you want to write code for the U.S. government, you better be ready for open source. The U.S. government has put in a policy, the Federal Source Code policy, which requires federal agencies to open source at least 20% of the code they develop over the next three years.  The changes promise to overhaul how the government interacts with vendors on technology projects. (…read further)

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Michael Sutherland-Shaw

Michael Sutherland-Shaw

Marketing Communications Specialist at FreeBalance
Michael works in the marketing and communications department following a career in journalism. Michael is currently learning Ruby on Rails and loves discovering new music.

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