Independent fiscal institutions (IFIs) are public bodies that provide non-partisan oversight and analysis of fiscal policy. They have become a cornerstone of fiscal oversight in nearly all OECD countries. Strong and well-functioning IFIs promote sound fiscal policy and sustainable public finances.

The Federal Planning Bureau of Belgium was among the first OECD IFIs, established in 1959 as the Bureau for Economic Programming. The Bureau evolved along with Belgium’s economy and institutional changes to become the Federal Planning Bureau (FPB). Recent years have seen the Federal Planning Bureau receive new mandates and responsibilities, such as estimating the costs of election platforms put forward by political parties and analysing the effects of investments and reforms in Belgium’s post-COVID Recovery and Resilience Plan.

This review assesses the FPB’s institutional, operational and analytical performance as an IFI. As the FPB’s responsibilities have grown, the review provides insights into the extent to which the institution continues to serve the needs of its stakeholders effectively.

The report is divided into three parts. The first part reviews the institutional framework and operations of the Bureau as it relates to fulfilling its mandate, particularly its responsibilities as one of Belgium’s IFIs. The second reviews the Bureau’s analytical capacity to assess the quality of its work, particularly the models related to the ex ante assessment of reforms envisaged by the federal government in areas such as pensions, taxation, the labour market, energy, and investment, and policy changes linked, among others, to country specific recommendations from the Council of the European Union. The third reviews the Bureau’s performance related to its mandate to undertake election budgetary costings and impact assessment. The review sets out a series of actions to strengthen the effective functioning of the FPB, drawing on the OECD Principles for Independent Fiscal Institutions, as well as international best practice.

The action was funded by the European Union via the Technical Support Instrument, and implemented by the OECD, in co-operation with the Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support of the European Commission.

The review benefitted from comments from the OECD’s Working Party of Parliamentary Budget Officials and Independent Fiscal Institutions. It was approved by the Committee of Senior Budget Officials on 6 October 2023 and prepared for publication by the Secretariat.

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