Over 50 participants converged in Manama last week for an international workshop on municipal financial management indicators.
During the meeting, finance and local government experts began the ambitious task of developing internationally relevant financial management indicators for local governments around the world. The workshop is part of an on-going co-operation between the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture and UN-HABITAT.
In welcoming this pioneering work, Under-Secretary for the Ministry Dr. Jumma Al Kaabi pledged to present the progress made at a high level-event during the upcoming Fourth Session of the World Urban Forum to be held in Nanjing from 3-7 November 2008.
Financial management has a long history across North Africa and the Middle East. The first accounting systems were established as early as 624 A.D. and most surprisingly predate even the invention of Arabic numerals. Today, financial management systems are highly diverse and complex. For local governments, they reflect complicated trade-offs among competing demands and interests.
Recognising that that indicators are small models in their own right, considerable efforts were made during the workshop to create a framework for identifying suitable indicators that are comprehensive, clearly defined, reproducible, unambiguous, understandable and practical to the needs of decision makers.
Based on the recommendations made by the participants a small number of test countries will be selected and contacts established. Efforts to capture examples of related best practices is being initiated and in the near future a select number of Urban Observatories in test countries will be contacted and trained on the use of the municipal finance indicators.