New Economy Forum: Impact on public finances of GovTech and Fintech applications

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How do digital technologies and especially fintech affect systems and processes in public financial management and revenue administrations? What new tax and expenditure policy options do these technologies create? And what are the risks? This panel discusses these issues and take a look into the future.

Opening Remarks
Vitor Gaspar
Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF

 

 

Speaker
Ruud De Mooij
Advisor Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF


Moderator
Gerardo Una
Senior Economist, IMF

Panelists


 

Fernando Barraza
Revenue Agency Chile

 

Dharitri Panda
Finance Ministry, India

Ms. Dharitri Panda, an officer of Indian Civil Accounts Service (1987 batch) is currently working as the Additional Controller General of Accounts of India and is heading the Public Financial Management Division. During her career spanning 35 years in Govt. of India she has handled various important assignments in Finance, Power, Health, Defence, Home and Industry Sectors. She has worked in various capacities of being Financial Adviser in Health and Defence and also was part of regulatory reforms in power sector in her capacity as Joint Director     Tariffs in Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission. She was also responsible for vaccine procurements in her capacity as Joint Secretary in Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Presently, in her capacity as Addl. CGA, she is responsible for overseeing the PFMS Division, a flagship GIFMIS system of Govt of India which manages the Treasury, payments, receipts and accounting functions and social transfers and monitoring of utilisation of government funds.  

She holds a Double Masters in Sociology (JNU) and Public Policy (TERI University). Her hobbies include Singing and Yoga. She has widely travelled across the world. 

 

Cina Lawson
Minister of Digital Economy, Togo

Cina Lawson is Minister of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation of Togo. Drawing from over 17 years of experience and expertise in telecommunications policy and regulation, she is leading Togo through a profound transition to an inclusive digital economy. Lawson began her career at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. assisting governments in developing countries to execute regulatory reforms. She then worked for Alcatel-Lucent in Paris before joining Orange Group in New York City as Manager of Corporate Strategy and Business Development.  

As a minister, she has boosted private sector participation in the Togolese telecoms sector, enacted new legal and regulatory frameworks and privatised the historic operator. Lawson’s transformative initiatives such as strengthening data protection and cybersecurity; implementing universal digital ID; digitising public services and government-to-people payments; as well as accelerating the deployment of high-speed Internet nationwide, have contributed to building a solid foundation for the modernisation of Togo’s economy. 

She is a fervent advocate of innovation-driven solutions to Africa’s developmental challenges. Lawson’s work has gained recognition from around the world, including from the World Economic Forum, les Napoleons and Forbes. In 2019, she received the Harvard Alumni Public Service Award becoming the first African female political figure to do so. Lawson is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  

 

Mr. Henri Lindeberg
Estonia Tax Agency

Seminar Report


GovTech is about how technologies change public administration and government policies. The panelists discussed how digital technologies, especially fintech, can affect taxation, revenue administration, public financial management, and expenditure policy.

Key Points:

  • Revenue administration and taxation. Panelists agreed that digital transformation can improve taxation and government revenue administration by providing better and timely information. Barraza shared Chile’s experience with tax administration digitalization and stressed the importance of the upskilling of tax officials. Lindeberg presented two examples of real-time tax declaration systems in Estonia.
  • Public financial management and public expenditure. Panelists noted that the information revolution may transform government spending. Lawson highlighted the social protection program in Togo based on a digital platform and noted the advantage of using digital ID to provide better targeted cash transfer. Panda shared the experience with public financial management reforms through digitalization in India.
  • Risks and challenges. Panelists agreed that technology poses risks and challenges. de Mooij highlighted the risks associated with cybercrimes, biases in automated decision making, data breaches, and new avenues for tax evasion and fraud. Gaspar emphasized avoiding silos where different arms of the government develop their own digital strategy and stressed the need for synergies from collaboration and peer learning. de Mooij noted that successful technology transformation requires comprehensive reforms including changing the organizational structure.

Quotes:

Given how fast governments are digitalizing, it is important to distinguish between pace and haste. It is necessary to do it right. Vitor Gaspar

Information is the lifeblood of any tax administration and digitalization is essentially an information revolution.Ruud de Mooij

Contributor: Bo Zhao

Photos