The OECD review on Portuguese Public Finance Council was commissioned by the CFP. It was at the Council’s initiative and comes towards the end of the term of its first leader, Teodora Cardoso. This provides an opportune moment to reflect on the impact of the Council to date and identify aspects that could be improved to ensure its long-run viability. The review was undertaken by the OECD with the support of an international peer from the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as well as a Portuguese academic peer.
In a relatively short period of time, the CFP has become a well-regarded independent institution providing high-quality analysis of public finances in Portugal. The institution will shortly be fully delivering on its mandate, and already receives impressive media coverage for its work. CFP reports are often discussed in Parliament and referred to during national fiscal debates. The institution has also played an important role in improving fiscal transparency and providing new information to facilitate fiscal oversight and a greater understanding of issues affecting Portugal’s long-term fiscal sustainability.
The early success of the CFP is in no small part due to the excellent stewardship by its first President, the rest of the Senior Board, and the head of staff. This leadership team has instilled in the institution a high degree of independence, reinforced through its institutional arrangements. In particular, the President of the Court of Audit and the Governor of the Bank of Portugal play an important role in relation to the appointment of the Council’s leadership and auditor, as well as its budget.
The OECD offers three key recommendations:
- Relevant government departments and agencies should meet with the CFP to resolve access to information challenges, particularly in the area of social security. Regular reporting by the CFP on access to information requests, and whether or not they have been fulfilled, would also better highlight its continued challenges to external stakeholders. In addition, timely access to information would be fostered by additional staff capacity in some areas of government.
- To achieve broader public and political buy-in, the CFP should improve the way it communicates so that the value of the institution, and its outputs, are more widely understood. In particular, the CFP should focus on communicating its role as a national institution, serving the citizens of Portugal.
- To broaden the collective responsibility for the leadership appointment decision, and increase transparency around the process, the President of the Court of Audit and the Governor of the Bank of Portugal could submit the list of proposed candidates to the Budget and Finance Committee at Parliament for its opinion before the final decision is taken by the Council of Ministers.