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22 June 2024

UAE hosts Regional Senior Budget Officials Network for MENA

Published
By WAM

The UAE Ministry of Finance is hosting the 13th annual meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Middle East and North Africa Senior Budget Officials (MENA SBO).

Kicking off today in Dubai, the two-day meeting convenes decision-makers from across the region to exchange knowledge and expertise and discuss budget-related issues.

This meeting is a key platform for financial decision-makers, especially senior budget officials, to discuss key public financial management issues, enhance the efficiency of public spending, and adapt to regional and global economic challenges and opportunities.

Mohamed Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, said that the UAE’s leadership is keen to bolster the country’s position by hosting key regional and global events, where outcomes impact countries in the region and around the world, contribute to improving the national economic development, and make the UAE among the most efficient countries in terms of financial and economic policies. He added that the government is keen on maintaining a cautious and rational spending policy to ensure a strong national economy and employing public financial management systems in the development process to achieve public policy objectives.

He added, “The topics on the meeting’s agenda will enrich the UAE’s fiscal policy, which is one of the cornerstones for boosting investor confidence. The country’s fiscal policy plays a key role in balanced development, and the adoption of laws that attract investment, capital, human and technological expertise and knowledge from around the world, as well as in supporting diverse sources of income."

Younis Haji Al Khoori, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, delivered the opening remarks for the regional meeting. He said, “The significance of this meeting stems from its role in enhancing joint and constructive cooperation between the UAE, the wider MENA region, and the OECD, in areas of common interest. The meeting’s discussions will provide participants with insights that help them find solutions to challenges related to financial management issues. This meeting is held in-person, in Dubai, after being held virtually for years, which enables participants to interact, exchange opinions and ideas, and share best practices live.”

Jón Blöndal, Head of Public Management and Budgeting Division, Public Governance Directorate, OECD, said, “Strong public financial management systems are crucial to socio-economic development, now more than ever, given the changes our countries are experiencing and the opportunities ahead. Hosted by the UAE Ministry of Finance, the meeting is timely due to the environments we are witnessing.”
The Agenda

The agenda of the two-day meeting includes a group session on recent budget developments in the region, which provides an overview of recent developments in budget, public spending and public financial management reform initiatives in member countries.

In the first day, the “AI in Public Finance” session, with the participation of the UAE Artificial Intelligence Office, included a dialogue on generative AI, its potential use in public finance to improve the efficiency of public spending, as well as its use restrictions.

The “Green Budget” session discussed the issue of green transformation, a fundamental challenge facing countries around the globe. The session garnered the participation of the COP28 Presidency, including discussions on how to integrate climate and environmental considerations into public financial management, presenting relevant achievements and identifying areas of further reforms.

From 30th November to 12th December, 2023, the UAE will host the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), whose presidency aims to make it a turning point for achieving tangible progress in global climate action, through an action plan that is based on four paradigm shifts – fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030; deliver old promises and set the framework for a new deal on finance; put nature, people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action; and mobilise for the most inclusive COP.

On day two of the annual meeting, a session titled “OECD Spending Better Framework” will be held to discuss various budget reform initiatives and their role in achieving successful fiscal results through budget control organisations, bringing together organisations, frameworks, processes, and practices that lead to better government spending.

The “Financial Awareness and Public Communication” session will present topics about the importance of good communication with the public to increase their awareness and ability to understand fiscal issues. Concluding the annual meeting, a session will be held to present the OECD report on the current and future work program, enabling participants to set priorities and discuss their willingness to participate in specific studies.