Reinforcing the Role of Parliament in Budgeting Process
A budget is the most important economic policy tool of a government explaining its priorities. As the representative of people, parliament is liable for ensuring that the budget best matches citizens’ needs. This power is predominantly important at times of fiscal consolidation that demands deliberate prioritization and oversight of the budget expenditures. However, in order to undertake such actions, parliament needs to have sufficient capacities, a well-functioning internal organizational structure, and strong cooperation with other institutions reporting to it.
How you benefited?
In countries around the world, the budget bill is the most important document put before parliament in the year. Therefore, parliament is embodied with one of the crucial roles in the entire budgetary process. Yet, in practice, due to inadequate capacities and/or means, parliaments and their members often fail to perform their role.
Despite the fact that parliament’s powers are often underutilized, recent public financial management developments indicate that modern parliaments are rethinking their role in the budget process, trying to increase its understanding and reassert themselves as more active players within it. Having this in mind, the objective of this webinar was to assess options for strengthening parliament’s role in approval, monitoring and oversight of national budgets while placing them into the context of Southeast European (SEE) countries.
With the aim of making contribution towards supporting parliaments in increasing the transparency, credibility and accountability of the budget process, we examined potential benefits of establishing independent analytical budget units for the legislature, and assess professional capacities that such units would need to successfully fulfill a set of core functions and ensure their nonpartisan, independent, and objective advice.
As EU accession requires parliaments to strengthen its auditing functions, we examined ways for strengthening cooperation of parliaments and supreme audit institutions, the role of parliamentary committees in reviewing audit findings, prospects for utilizing performance audit findings, and follow-up mechanisms to ensure that action is taken to address issues raised in audit reports.
Finally, we took a look at the recommendations from the latest Open Budget Index rankings for SEE countries efforts aimed at promoting transparency, participation and accountable governance. We discussed how independent fiscal institutions can complement the work of parliaments, especially in the area of macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts, cost estimates of new policy proposals and assessing fiscal implications of activities undertaken by public enterprises. We explored international experiences and their relevance for the SEE countries.
What you learned?
After attending this webinar, you were able to:
- identify the key issues that make for effective scrutiny of the executive draft budget including parliament’s amending powers, its finance/budget committee(s), the timing of the budget process, and access to relevant information
- evaluate potential roles, responsibilities and relations of parliament budget scrutiny units in providing support to parliamentarians with the budget process
- assess prospects for strengthening interaction of auditors with parliament
- determine prospects for parliaments’ utilization of audit reports
- understand areas where independent fiscal institutions can complement the work of parliaments.
The webinar was designed as partaking and combine subject matter presentations while allowing time for questions for presenters.
This webinar was designed for:
- members of parliament, especially those having role in finance/budget committee(s)
- staff of parliamentary administrations (i.e. secretary general, committees’ administration, parliamentary research departments, and budget scrutiny offices)
- officials working in supreme audit institutions, and
- officials working in independent fiscal institutions (e.g. fiscal councils).
Eugene Verkade- Researcher at the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis
Alastair Swarbrick- Senior Adviser for PFM and External Audit, OECD SIGMA
Aleksandra Cvetkovska- Senior Program Manager at National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Macedonia
Nihad Nakaš- Senior Program Advisor at the CEF
Useful reading materials
- Developing effective working relationships between supreme audit institutions and parliaments, Alistair Swarbrick and Bianca Breteche, SIGMA Paper No. 54
- Effective Financial Scrutiny: The Role of Parliament in Public Finance, Joachim Wehner, World Bank
- Who Controls the Budget: The Legislature or the Executive?, Ian Lienert, IMF Working Paper 05/115
When: December 6, 2018 at 13:00 CET
Where: From your computer, tablet or smartphone.
How: You needed to install the WebEX to your device. For detailed technical information please read the Guidelines on how to attend a webinar.
This webinar was publicly available, and there were no limits to the number of participants per country or institution. Participation is free of charge.
This learning initiative was supported by: