Strengthening Parliamentary Oversight of National Budgets in Africa

Strengthening Parliamentary Oversight of National Budgets in Africa

 

President of World Bank, Jim Yong Kim

President of World Bank, Jim Yong Kim

Since 2009, African Public Accounts Com- mittees (PACs) and the Southern African Development Community Organization of Public Accounts Committees (SADCOPAC) and Eastern African Association of Public Accounts Committees (EAAPAC) regional networks have made strides in improving the benefits of national budgets for citizens.

By participating in these networks, which focus on sharing practitioner experience and developing regional good practice, the PACs identified country-level reforms needed to strengthen the parliaments’ capacity to engage in open and collaborative budget processes. World Bank Institute (WBI) supported the peer and action learning processes within the networks as part of its Parliament Open Budgeting Program. As a result, members of Parliament and staff were able to bolster their roles in forming, implementing and overseeing their respective country budgets.

In January–March 2013, WBI mapped the outcomes of this initiative using a customized outcome mapping tool. This visual map presents the sequence of outcomes achieved by change agents—the PACs and regional networks. The map illustrates how the outcomes connected and built on each other over time to form multi-actor, institutional processes for change to address the initiative’s objectives and goal.

WBI team members identified and formulated the outcomes, presenting an explanation of their significance and how WBI had contributed—directly or indirectly, in a small or big way, intentionally or not—by catalyzing or empowering the change agents to take new actions. Then, roughly 20% of the outcomes were independently substantiated for credibility in the mapping exercise. This case highlights a few examples of the outcomes achieved by the SADCOPAC and EAAPAC regional network members.

There is a global trend toward greater openness in government finances. Transparent budgetary practices can ensure funds raised by the state for public purposes will be spent as promised, while maximizing the benefits. One crucial component of a transparent system of resource allocation is independent assurance of the integrity of public budgeting through an audit process, and the scrutiny of its results by representatives of the people, in the form of parliament. PACs play an increasingly important role in this good governance, transparency and financial stability. Public financial management systems are framed by the budget processes: budget formulation and the approval of the budget by parliament (ex-ante phase), implementation of budget provisions by ministries and the audit and oversight of budget implementation by parliament (ex-post phase).

WBI seeks to enhance the flow of information around the formulation and oversight of the budget to strengthen participation, transparency and accountability of national public financial management systems. This is accomplished by strengthening regional networks of PACs to serve as platforms for sharing experiences and building their technical capacity to scrutinize implementation of national budgets.

 In four years, parliaments in African countries engaged in the WBI program have made progress in enhancing how their countries’ national budgets respond to reform needs and how public officials are held accountable for implementing government programs. The process of change for this initiative can be seen in four streams of outcomes that are detailed in the following sections.

 Source: World Bank Institute, 2013

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