Harmonizing Finance Statistics in East Africa

Challenge

In 2013, the five partner states of the East African Community (EAC) — Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda — signed an agreement to prepare for a monetary union. To ensure harmonization of data, the countries needed a common set of consistent, comparable government finance statistics (GFS).

Approach

The EAC Secretariat reached out to the IMF’s technical assistance center for East Africa (East AFRITAC) to help set up a framework to increase the coverage, comprehensiveness and comparability of GFS across the five countries. Through alignment of their GFS with the most recent GFS Manual (GFSM 2014), in just two years (2014- 2016), each state was able to compile not only budgetary central government and selected local government statistics, but also statistics for the general government sector (which includes extra-budgetary units, social security funds, and local governments in addition to the budgetary central government).

Impact

The GFS harmonization enabled the EAC Secretariat to better monitor partner states’ readiness for monetary union, and to effective conduct fiscal and monetary policies once the union is established. A number of harmonized statistics are now reported to the IMF and the World Bank, and are disseminated nationally. For the IMF, the improvements in timeliness, frequency and coverage of GFS provide a better basis for analyses, surveillance and policy advice to the region.