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The crucial role of Parliamentary Budget Offices in effective oversight of the budget

Sep, 12
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The crucial role of Parliamentary Budget Offices in effective oversight of the budget

By Kristina Müller-Kuckelberg

 

In 2016 a continental network of PBOs was founded by South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Uganda to establish peer learning among these institutions. From 16 to 17 August 2017 the second Annual African Network of Parliamentary Budget Offices (AN-PBO) conference took place in Cape Town. Delegates from Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as representatives from IMF, OECD participated. A key result of the conference was that the South African PBO committed itself to establishing a secretariat to support the network.

The theme of this year’s conference was “The role of Parliamentary Budget Offices in African Parliaments’ fiscal oversight – contribution to the African development agenda.” The event served as a platform for input and discussion on the topic. Participants exchanged on experiences about how best to institutionalise PBOs in their respective systems. The South African PBO illustrated its role in the budget cycle and explained its governance structures. The input from the United Kingdom PBO underscored that without effective communication, a PBO was unlikely to reach its objectives of assisting Parliament in overseeing the use of public funds.

The conference had prominent support from the South African National Parliament and included members of the standing committee on finance, the Speaker, Baleka Mbete and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Thandi Modise. Both expressed strong commitment to the African PBO-Network. Indeed, as Prof Mohammed Jahed, Director of the South African PBO and founder of the African PBO-Network, stressed, PBOs need backing from political leaders for PBOs to be effective.

Kristina Müller-Kuckelberg, Technical Advisor with GIZ’s Good Financial Governance (GFG) in Africa programme, presented regional trends and global commitments for Legislative Oversight and GFG in Africa. Her conclusion, that without awareness of global economic trends and international commitment to GFG, developmental efforts are unlikely to succeed, was well received. Participants agreed that financial expertise is a crucial element of parliamentary work and capacitates parliamentarians to hold government to account and be more effective in their political decision making.

An overview of presentations given and further details of the conference are available on the South African PBO website.

Contact: Kristina Müller-Kuckelberg (kristina.mueller-kuckelberg@giz.de)

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