Fiscal Affairs Department and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

April 22-23, 2017


    Technology holds vast potential for fundamental and transformative changes in fiscal policy.

    In this two-day conference, hosted in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we bring together the knowledge, experience and perspectives of the private sector, academia, government and civil society to discuss everything from Big Data to privacy.

    Day 1—Saturday April 22, 2017: Pushing the Frontier

    1:30-1:45 PM
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2


    1:45-2:00 PM 
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2

    Opening Session: Digital Revolutions in Public Finance

    Speaker: Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

    2:00-3:00 PM
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2

    Session 1: Frontiers in Tax Policy I

    New technology and increased information availability offer scope for policymakers to rethink the structure of tax policy in ways that could significantly increase their economic efficiency and equity. At the same time, the private sector is also taking advantage of the digital revolution—the peer to peer economy, for example, is challenging tax policy design and administration. This session will explore how policymakers could respond to these new challenges.

    Chair: Ludger Schuknecht, Chief Economist, Ministry of Finance, Germany


    • Bas Jacobs, Professor of Economics and Public Finance, Erasmus University Rotterdam
    • Gareth Myles, Professor of Economics,  University of Adelaide


    • Simon Johnson, Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management
    3:00-3:30 PM
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2

    Coffee break

    3:30-4:30 PM
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2

    Session 2: Frontiers in Tax Policy II

    Chair: Ann Nolan, Second Secretary General, Department of Finance, Ireland



    • Beth Adair, Global Tax Director, Airbnb
    4:30-5:30 PM
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2

    Session 3: Enhancing Fiscal Systems

    This session will emphasize how digitalization has opened new doors for fiscal policymaking and management. Data on daily fiscal operations can be used to improve the quality of macroeconomic management, enabling governments to monitor (and change) the fiscal position in real time. Cutting edge cognitive computing and block chain technology now offer the opportunity to promote efficiency and transparency in government process. 

    Chair: Gil Beltran, Undersecretary, Department of Finance, Philippines


    • Arvind Krishna, Senior Vice President and Director, IBM Research
    • Brian Olden, Florian Misch and Marcos Poplawski Ribeiro, IMF


    • Richard Hughes, Director, Fiscal Policy, HM Treasury, United Kingdom
    6:00-7:15 PM
    HQ2, Atrium

    Reception and Key Note Speech: The Implications of a Cashless Economy

    Speaker: Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University

    Day 2—Sunday April 23, 2017: Reaching the Frontier

    9:00-10:00 AM
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2

    Session 4: Innovation in Public Spending and Management: Dividends from the Digital Revolution

    This session will explore how innovation and digitalization in public management has the potential to reduce leakages and corruption and improve the quality of budget execution and government spending. The session will also seek to quantify the potential savings from government digitalization.

    Chair: Martin Lindpere, Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister, Estonia


    • Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director, Better Than Cash Alliance
    • Susan Lund, Partner, McKinsey Global Institute


    • Philipp Krause, Deputy Director, Development Policy & Finance, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    10:00-11:00 AM
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2

    Session 5: Digitalization: How Effective Can It Be?

    Digitalization offers opportunities to design spending policies in more effective ways. Technological advances may improve the quality of service delivery, for example in the education sector, where open-source platforms can accelerate the rate of learning and improve access to quality education at lower cost than under current systems. But is digitalization a panacea? Can it overcome the obstacles of weak institutions and low capacity?

    Chair: Miguel Messmacher Linartas, Undersecretary of Finance, Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit, Mexico


    • Ravi Kanbur, Professor of Economics, Cornell University
    • Jenny Aker, Associate Professor of Development Economics, Tufts University


    • Andrew McAfee, Co-Director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy
    11:00-11:30 AM
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2

    Coffee break

    11:30-12:30 PM
    HQ2, Conference Hall 2

    Session 6: How Countries Can Make the Jump

    With digitalization comes the possibility to tackle issues of poverty and economic development in new and innovative ways. This session will explore how countries can and have taken advantage of the digital revolution—with Kenya and India as leading examples—drawing lessons for others seeking to ‘leapfrog’.

    Chair: A. K. Seneviratne, Director General, Department of Fiscal Policy, Ministry of Finance, Sri Lanka


    • Rathin Roy, Director, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy
    • Njuguna Ndung'u, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Nairobi


    • Martin Ravaillon, Edmond D. Villani Professor of Economics, Georgetown University
    1:00-3:00 PM
    HQ1, Events Hall

    Lunch (by invitation only)

    3:00-4:30 PM
    HQ1, Meeting Halls A&B

    High-Level Panel Discussion: Digitalization: Revolutionizing Fiscal Policy and Systems

    Technology is transforming both the way we live and the policies that guide government decisions. Panelists will discuss the difficult balancing act that policymakers face between unlocking this potential to revolutionize fiscal policy formulation and implementation on the one hand, and societies’ privacy concerns and public sector capacity constraints on the other. They will also reflect on the implications of digitalization for countries at different stages of development, and seek to identify ways in which countries can embark on the digital reform path.

    Moderator: Martin Sandbu, Financial Times


    • David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director, IMF
    • Caroline Atkinson, Head of Global Policy, Google Inc.
    • Andrew McAfee, Co-Director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy
    • Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India