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Improving the dynamics of aid : towards more predictable budget support

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  • Eifert, Benn
  • Gelb, Alan
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    Abstract

    This paper considers approaches towards improving the predictability of aid to low income countries, with a special focus on budget support. In order to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, the donor community is increasing aid flows while pushing for more coordination and tighter performance-based selectivity. However, these factors may increase the unpredictability of aid from current levels, which are already high enough to impose significant costs. Predictability is a particular challenge in the area of budget support, which will continue to increase in importance as aid is sought to underpin longer-term recurrent spending commitments. Budget support reduces transactions costs and drains on capacity, but it tends to be more vulnerable to fluctuations than multi-year project support. Poor predictability raises the threat of a low-level equilibrium: countries, budgeting prudently within a medium-term fiscal framework, will discount commitments; donors will see few funding gaps, so pledges will fall. With some countries discounting aid commitments in formulating budgets, some already see signs of this happening. To improve predictability, donors must extend their funding horizons. However, even if this can be done, several major issues will remainat country level. First, how can countries deal with residual short-run volatility of disbursements relative to commitments? Second, can donors lengthen commitment horizons to individual developing countries without excessive risk of misallocating aid? Third, within a country's overall aid envelope, how should donors set the shares of project aid and budget support? Finally, the paper considers the other main approach to budget support, the output or outcome-driven approach of the European Union. The paper concludes that many of these issues can be addressed. Simple spending and savings rules built around a buffer reserve fund of 2-4 months of imports can help smooth public spending. Aid can be pre-committed several years ahead with only small efficiency losses, using a strategy of"flexible pre-commitment."Guidelines can be set to limit the volatility of budget support while keeping it performance-based, and past experience can be used more systematically to develop"outcome"norms to better guide aid allocation.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3732.

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    Date of creation: 01 Oct 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3732

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    Related research

    Keywords: Development Economics&Aid Effectiveness; School Health; Economic Theory&Research; Markets and Market Access; Country Strategy&Performance;

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    1. St├ęphane Pallage & Michel A. Robe, 2003. "Leland & Pyle Meet Foreign Aid? Adverse Selection and the Procyclicality of Financial Aid Flows," Cahiers de recherche 0327, CIRPEE.
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    Cited by:
    1. Brian Levy, 2007. "Governance Reform : Bridging Monitoring and Action," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6742.
    2. Yongzheng Yang & Robert Powell & Sanjeev Gupta, 2005. "The Macroeconomic Challenges of Scaling Up Aid to Africa," IMF Working Papers 05/179, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Tingley, Dustin, 2010. "Donors and domestic politics: Political influences on foreign aid effort," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 40-49, February.
    4. Eifert, Benn & Gelb, Alan, 2008. "Reforming Aid: Toward More Predictable, Performance-Based Financing for Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 2067-2081, October.
    5. James Boyce, 2007. "Public Finance, Aid and Post-Conflict Recovery," Working Papers wp140, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    6. Peter S. Heller & Menachem Katz & Xavier Debrun & Theo Thomas & Taline Koranchelian & Isabell Adenauer, 2006. "Making Fiscal Space Happen!," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 7(3), pages 89-132, July.
    7. Buffie, Edward F. & O'Connell, Stephen A. & Adam, Christopher, 2010. "Fiscal inertia, donor credibility, and the monetary management of aid surges," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 287-298, November.
    8. John Hudson & Paul Mosley, 2007. "Aid Volatility, Policy and Development," Working Papers 2007015, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2007.
    9. James K. Boyce, 2007. "Public finance, aid and post-conflict recovery," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics 2007-09, .

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