The OBR is one of a growing number of independent fiscal institutions (IFIs) that have been established around the world to provide non-partisan analysis of public finances and fiscal policies. We engage actively with this international community, sharing experience with our counterparts and with governments and parliaments that are creating new institutions or enhancing fiscal transparency.

World

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IFIs

 

Europe

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The International Monetary Fund estimates that there were 39 national IFIs (or ‘fiscal councils’) in 37 countries in 2016. The institutions that now fulfil this role in some countries have existed for many years – including the Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy Analysis since 1945 and the US Congressional Budget Office since 1974. But the number of IFIs increased sharply in the wake of the global financial crisis and then again more recently when the member countries of the Eurozone were required to have such bodies.

A number of these IFIs – including the OBR – participate in the OECD’s network of parliamentary budget offices and independent fiscal institutions. This holds an annual meeting for which the agendas and documents can be found here. The OBR is also a member of a voluntary network created by European Union IFIs, as well as participating in meetings of EU IFIs convened by the European Commission.

In 2014 the OECD adopted a set of principles for independent fiscal institutions – drawn up by the network – covering local ownership, independence, mandate, resources, relationship with the legislature, access to information, transparency, communications and external evaluation. The OBR was judged to perform well against these principles in an external evaluation led by Kevin Page, the former Parliamentary Budget Officer of Canada, in 2014.

The principles necessarily reflect the fact that the size, role and structure of individual IFIs varies widely from country to country. For example: whether the institution is linked more closely to the legislature or to the executive; whether it undertakes its own forecasts or merely comments on those of the government; whether it formally assesses fiscal rules; whether it provides policy advice; and whether its costs individual policy measures, and, if so, government measures only or the proposals of other legislators or political parties . Detailed notes describing most of the institutions in the OECD network can be found here.

The OBR regularly hosts visitors from overseas IFIs, governments and parliaments who are keen to find out about our work. OBR staff have also been involved in a number of technical assistance missions organised by the IMF, including:

  • Helping Iceland develop an organic budget law and design a new fiscal council;
  • Advising Rwanda on tax revenue forecasting; and
  • Assisting Uganda with macroeconomic forecasting under its new Public Financial Management legislation.

Fiscal councils overseas