Pioneering initiative expected to promote financial sustainability in the Emirate.
DUBAI GOVERNMENT’S Department of Finance has launched a landmark initiative aimed at strengthening and automating the Emirate’s fiscal planning and budgeting processes and transitioning Dubai Government to performance based budgeting.
The Smart Fiscal Planning Programme, which is expected to result in savings in hundreds of millions of Dirhams, has been sponsored by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Chairman of Dubai Government’s Supreme Fiscal Committee and falls within the framework of the Smart Government initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The programme is representative of the strategic direction that will be taken by Dubai Government and is an expression of the vision of the Department of Finance, which seeks to enhance the transparency of financial processes and support stable economic growth by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration of public funds.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum emphasised the importance of the role played by a unified fiscal planning system in promoting Fiscal Sustainability and supporting the achievement of the emirate’s strategic plan. He urged all Dubai Government entities to work with the Department of Finance in achieving the programme’s objectives.
According to Abdulrahman Al Saleh, the Director General of the Department of Finance, “the Smart Fiscal Planning Programme will save Dubai Government hundreds of millions of Dirhams in expenses, streamline processes and directly impact the achievement of the Department of Finance’s vision of sound management of public finance.”
“Furthermore, through efficient management of public resources, the programme will enable the Department of Finance to move towards the achievement of its strategic objectives in accordance with Dubai’s strategic plan and will strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of fiscal operations,” Al Saleh added.
The Department of Finance expects the Smart Fiscal Planning Programme to result in substantial savings as it will increase the accuracy of projections, enabling the department to link them to the strategic plans of government entities and to the overall strategic plan for the emirate of Dubai. Moreover, efficiencies in all stages of the planning and budgeting process that will result from the successful implementation of the programme will translate into significant savings and increased transparency of all fiscal processes, enhancing the effectiveness of the administration of public funds.
The Reform Program Steering Committee, which is headed by the Department of Finance and includes The Executive Council, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Smart Government Department, Dubai Police, Dubai Aviation City Corporation, the Roads and Transport Authority, will oversee the implementation of the Smart Fiscal Planning Programme.
The programme will address weaknesses in fiscal planning and budgeting processes and systems at Dubai Government entities and will link fiscal planning with strategic planning while transitioning Dubai Government to performance based budgeting. Budget processes will be automated using Oracle Hyperion Public Sector Planning and Budgeting application, the world’s most advanced application for public sector strategic and fiscal planning.
The new system will be implemented during the 2016 budget cycle, with a gradual transition to performance budgeting which will take place in accordance with a comprehensive plan for the transformation of Government-wide fiscal processes which spans several stages.
The current contractual agreement covers two stages: current state assessment and future state design for fiscal and strategic planning and budgeting processes. The scope of the consultants’ agreement with Dubai Government also includes detailed design of all significant elements of the future state, ranging from the assignment of relevant authorities to the design of relevant procedures and reports.
Arif Ahli, Executive Director – Budget and Planning at the Department of Finance, and the Chairman of the Reform Programme Steering Committee revealed that the launch of the Smart Fiscal Planning Programme signifies the beginning of a total transformation of all fiscal planning, budgeting and strategic planning activities throughout Dubai Government departments which will enable the Department of Finance to optimise resource allocation and administration of public funds.
Ahli went on to say that on-going advancements in budget preparation, execution and administration have become inevitable due to the challenges faced by governments. He emphasised the need for continuous education and development of finance personnel; controlled, continual development of processes and functions; and the importance of involving and supporting all government entities throughout all stages of change.
According to Mohammad Zaitoon, Director of Financial Development and Support at the Department of Finance, and the Executive Director of the reform programme, performance budgeting has proven to be the best fit for Dubai Government as it is premised on the concept of decentralised decision making and administration across government entities, which is consistent with the approach followed by Dubai Government. He added that the reform will provide a governance framework which will enable decentralised planning, allocation and administration of public resources.
Zaitoon has revealed that programme objectives will be accomplished in coordination with more than thirty experts and consultants in public sector finance, process reengineering, change and quality management, and information technology applications.
“In keeping with the Smart Government initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, smart devices will play an integral role in the Smart Fiscal Planning Program, enabling users to perform selected functions, such as the retrieval of key performance indicators, strategic and fiscal planning activities, and approval of specific transactions in accordance with the approval matrix for Dubai Government,” he added.
The Department of Finance, which began preparations for the Smart Fiscal Planning Programme in 2011, has appointed KPMG and PDP Consulting, specialists in public fiscal policy, fiscal planning and implementation of Oracle Hyperion, as its consultants for the programme. They will contribute their fiscal, economic and technical expertise and their experience with global organisations and finance ministries to design best practices for Dubai Government’s fiscal planning and budgeting functions.
As part of their scope, the consulting firms will also provide Dubai Government with a comprehensive plan detailing all stages of the transformation and automation associated with the Smart Fiscal Planning Programme. The first two stages of the programme are expected to be completed in 2014 and 2015 respectively. They involve the automation of budget preparation and administration processes using Hyperion. The transition of Dubai Government to performance based budgeting is expected to be complete by the year 2020.