Social Expenditure Monitor (SEM) for Arab States Skip to main content

Social Expenditure Monitor (SEM) for Arab States

Beirut, Lebanon
Event Type: 

The ability to target public expenditure in accord with social development priorities and macro-fiscal sustainability remains a challenge for most governments of the region today. The absence of a comprehensive public social expenditure monitor often results in inefficiency in budget allocation to support multiple and overlapping social programs or policies and the allocations often mis-match or they are inadequate to meeting the needs toward achieving the SDGs. Given the pressure on public budgets across countries in the region, continuing with such expenditure management tends to be unsustainable.

A comprehensive monitoring of public social expenditure would improve allocative efficiency and effectiveness of budgeting as well as it will be an enabling tool to rationalize expenditure components toward achieving different objectives, including delivering quality public services and “social investments” that promote inclusive development, social stability, enhance economic growth and revenues over time. A right mix of expenditure is important to drive the economy and society toward achieving the SDGs, not just higher levels of social expenditure, as emphasized in the ESCWA report (2017) on Rethinking Fiscal Policy for the Arab Region.

Following keen interests from Member States about assessing social expenditure in a more comprehensive way, ESCWA is supporting their efforts to establish a “Social Expenditure Monitor (SEM): An Integrated Framework for Supporting Macro-Fiscal Policies and the SDGs”. It is a joint project between EDID/SD/SDD, coordinated by EDID. Under the technical assistance program (RPTC), the activity is initiated as a pilot project in Jordan and Tunisia. Discussions are undergoing to implement the project in Kuwait and Palestine.

The primary objectives of the workshop are:

  • To review the social expenditure monitor draft, developed by ESCWA, and provide feedback on dimensions, indicators and design of the framework on social expenditure with a focus on tailoring it to national contexts.
  • To agree on next steps toward implementing the SEM to national contexts, including collaboration with national partners.