PP5312 PUBLIC FINANCIAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
SEMESTER 1 AY2013/2014
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE
LEE KUAN YEW SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
INSTRUCTOR: DR. LI HUI
Time: Wednesday 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Venue: MM Seminar Room 3-4
Office: OTH Building (Wing B) 03-01J
Office Hours: Wednesday 9am-12pm or by appointment
Phone: +65 65167904
This course examines key concerns in public financial management, focusing in particular on issues
regarding spending, taxing, and financing. The material covered is detailed below.
Budgeting: Main topics comprise the function and structure of operating and capital budgets; the budget
cycle, including budget preparation, approval, execution, and audit; budget evaluation; and financial
reporting and fiscal condition.
Spending: Subjects include overview and role of government spending in the context of market failure,
especially as related to externalities, public goods, and information asymmetries; intergovernmental
transfers and local government spending.
Taxation/Financing: Subject matter consists of the types and structures of taxation and standard criteria
for evaluating revenue raising options; the major forms of taxation, including those on labor,
consumption, savings, and wealth; deficit finance and debt management.
The objective of the module is to develop a thorough understanding of basic terms, concepts, and
methods in public finance and budgeting. At a minimum, students will become intelligent consumers of
public finance and budgeting information. The course stresses policy-relevant ideas and applications as
opposed to esoteric technical and/or abstract concerns. Best practices and regional examples are
highlighted throughout the course. The module is specifically designed for mid-career professionals,
although less experienced students may also find it useful.
The class will follow the outline below, recognizing the need for flexibility. Assigned readings should be
completed prior to class since a lecture/discussion format will be used, including liberal use of discussion
questions, in-class exercises and brief papers designed to stimulate thinking about and understanding of
public finance and budgeting.
Required Text and Readings
John L. Mikesell. Fiscal Administration: Analysis and Applications for the Public Sector, international
edition, 8th edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. ISBN-10: 1439035970. ISBN-13:
9781439035979. Available for purchase at the NUS Co-op.
In addition, we will be making liberal use of handouts and other reading material to supplement the text
as we go along. Several of the supplementary readings are identified in the “Class Schedule” section
below and posted on IVLE, others will be distributed as appropriate. For those interested in additional
readings, I will be happy to suggest some titles and provide materials from my personal library. You will
also find it valuable to read a daily newspaper to keep abreast of budget issues—many are covered
regularly—and they will be used as a springboard for class discussion.
You must check your university e-mail on a routine basis. If you do not regularly log into your NUS
personal E-mail account, it is recommended that you have your NUS personal e-mail account email
forwarded to the address that you do use regularly. I will send you handouts and assignments as well as
any necessary updates and comments through that account.
Grading will be based on a take-home assignment (30%), an issue paper (50%) and class participation
Assignment. The take-home assignment is intended to encourage hands-on learning experience and
measure ability to apply knowledge and skills in the study of public financial management. The
assignment is due at the beginning of the class period indicated.
Issue paper. Each student should select a country (preferably your home country) and a fiscal issue that
the country’s Minister for Finance ought to be concerned about. Write an essay no longer than 2000
words about why the government should be concerned about the issue, the problems or challenges it
poses to the country’s fiscal system or to the economy/society at large, and how the government should
address it. The issue paper is due in three stages: you should submit the topic of your issue paper by 16
October, which accounts for 10% of your final grade, then present your work during the last two class
periods, which accounts for 10% of your final grade, and finally submit the final paper by 20 November,
which accounts for 30% of your final grade. Nevertheless, earlier submission of the topic is
A note on presentation. Each student will present your work to the class in a fifteen-minute presentation.
Presenters should be concise, organized, and very conscious of the time (presentations will be stopped at
16 minutes, regardless of whether everyone has had a chance to speak). Additionally, presenters should
convey professionalism in their dress and style of presentation (be sure to practice first and make
effective use of audio-visual aids like PowerPoint). Presentations will be followed by a five-minute
question-and-answer period. Additionally, students will be given feedback by students and the instructor
to enable them to improve the final written submission of the group report. Presentations are worth 10%
of the final grade.
Participation. Much of what you will learn will come from experiences we have in class and much of the
learning will require your participation. Students are expected to share their knowledge and opinions of
lectures, required readings and related materials.
Assignment 1 30%
Assignment 2 50%
Topic Statement (10%)
Issue Paper (30%)
The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy does not tolerate cheating and/or plagiarism in any form.
Those students who violate the NUS Honor Code and LKYSPP Plagiarism guidelines will be subject to
penalty. To avoid giving the impression that you are passing off other people’s work as your own, you
will need to acknowledge conscientiously the sources of information, ideas, and arguments used in your
paper. Please refer to the handout that was given to you at the Workshop on Plagiarism conducted during
the Orientation period. It is advisable to set the reference style in your Word Document program to
Other Course Policies
Attendance: Regular and consistent attendance is necessary to do well in this class. Attendance is taken to
enforce University attendance policies.
Late Assignments: All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date due. Late submission of
assignments is not accepted without prior approval. Late assignments will be assessed a penalty of 10%
per day. No exceptions are made.
Syllabus: This syllabus serves as a general outline. The instructor reserves the right to modify any part of
the plan as necessary. Students will be notified promptly of any such modifications.
Date Topic and Assignment
Week 1 Shopping week: course information and introduction.
Week 2 The nature of public sector budgeting and financial management.
• John L. Mikesell. Fiscal Administration: Analysis and Applications for the Public
Sector (international edition), 8th edition, Chapter 1, 2 & 4;
• White & College, “Making ‘Common Sense’ of Federal Budgeting.”
Week 3 Overview of governmental revenues, spending, and borrowing.
• Mikesell, Chapter 2 pp.42-50*;
• “How to Read a Budget;”
• IMF, “Budget Classification;”
• Center for American Progress, “Comparing Public Spending and Priorities Across
• Singapore Budget Highlights FY2013:
• Budget Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
for Finance, Singapore (supplementary):
Week 4 Economy and public budgeting—a public finance primer (I).
• Mikesell, Chapter 1 & Chapter 4 pp.192-199*;
• “Monetary and Fiscal Policy in the Very Short Run”:
Week 5 Economy and public budgeting—a public finance primer (II).
• FRB: The Federal Reserve and Financial Crisis, Chairman Bernanke’s College
Lecture Series: http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/lectures/about.htm
• Fed Video from Fed Education: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFnH9MCdpLo
Week 6 Revenue structure and administration (I): what are the sources of revenue that are used to
support government activities? How would you evaluate a source of revenue?
• Mikesell, Chapter 7.
Recess Week 21-29 September
Week 7 Revenue structure and administration (II): taxation on income, consumption and property
• Mikesell, Chapter 8-11;
• Assignment distributed on 2 October.
Week 8 Guest Speaker Donald Low How Tian: Singapore’s Fiscal Policy
• Low, Donald, Fiscal Policy in Singapore: Discipline with Discretion, in Ravi Menon
(ed.), The Singapore Synthesis: Government, Markets and Policy Innovation in
Singapore, World Scientific (upcoming);
• Stiglitz, Joseph (2010), Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy,
Penguin Press, Chapter 3;
• Qiu, Pamela and Tan Lin San (2011), Discretionary Transfers: Providing Fiscal
Support in a Behaviourally Compatible Way, in Donald Low (ed.), Behavioural
Economics and Policy Design: Examples from Singapore, World Scientific, Chapter 6
Week 9 Budget decision-making: what constitutes “good” budgeting? models of budgeting;
analysis and strategies in decision-making; budget reforms.
• Mikesell, Chapter 2 pp.78-87*, Chapter 5;
• Schick, “The Road to PBB” (supplementary);
• Wildavsky, “A Budget for All Seasons”(supplementary);
• Issue paper topic due on 16 October.
Week 10 Intergovernmental fiscal relations: fiscal federalism, fiscal responsibilities for each level
of government; intergovernmental grants; tax coordination and competition.
• Mikesell, Chapter 13;
• Bahl, “Worldwide Trends in Fiscal Decentralization”:
• Institute for Public Finance Reform, “Public Expenditure Assignment in China:
Problems and Reform”:
• Assignment due on 23 October.
Week 11 Deficits/surpluses; debt and cash management.
• Mikesell, Chapter 14 & 15.
Week 12 Issue paper presentations
Week 13 Issue paper presentations
20 Nov. Issue paper due