Reforming the government budgeting system in Malta Ron Hodges Hot
Uploaded by Ron Hodges     Uploaded date: March 30, 2020    
Publication date
November 01, 2019
Paper language
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse the pre-adoption phase of budgetary reform. Perspectives on the introduction and use of performance information in budgeting are obtained through interviews with current and former senior politicians and civil servants in Malta. Institutional theories are used to analyse the pressures that are perceived as promoting or inhibiting reforms.
Design/methodology/approach – The research followed a qualitative approach, using data gathered from documentary sources and empirical evidence collected from semi-structured interviews. Documentary sources were used to provide knowledge, obtaining an understanding of budgeting processes in the Maltese central government. Two categories of interviewee are identified in the analysis: political interviewees, consisting of 7 politicians; and administrative interviewees consisting of 13 senior civil servants.
Findings – The authors find that the current line-item budgeting system is deeply embedded into government practices. Malta’s membership of the European Union and its adoption of the Euro support coercive pressures for reductions in fiscal deficits. Normative pressures appear to be significant and may have a longer-term impact in promoting budgeting reform.
Originality/value – This paper contributes to existing performance-based budgeting literature by studying the pre-adoption phase which has rarely been the focus of previous studies. The study delves into the interaction between institutional and economic forces, an aspect which has been inadequately studied. The access to current and former Prime Ministers and other Ministers of State in this study is unusual. As such, the researchers have been able to obtain the perceptions of political decision makers in a way that might be more difficult to do in larger countries.
Preferred Citation
Ellul, L. and Hodges, R. (2019), “Reforming the government budgeting system in Malta”, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management, vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 518-538. DOI:
Performance information; Public sector; Elite interviews; Budgetary reform
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  • Management accounting
  • Performance measurement
Type of Paper
Published paper

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