MPs must deepen analytical skills – Speaker
Members of Parliament (MPs) must raise their standards and build their analytical and technical capacities in order to make informed decisions on bills, loans and budget statements, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament, has said.
“Parliaments on the continent do not have access to financial and fiscal impact analyses of government policies – particularly in advance and the costs associated with bills that are to be passed into laws. Let me say in terms of socio-economic impact, in this day and age you cannot analyse the budget without looking at the gender impact, for example.
“Parliaments will have to question figures brought before it, especially since most African parliaments have not been able to conduct risk assessments related to loans, background analysis and lack analytical training,” he said.
Speaking at the opening of the 4th Africa Network of Parliamentary Budget Officers (AN-PBO) conference in Accra on Monday, Professor Oquaye launched a Budget and Fiscal Analysis Office to provide technical support for MPs in the areas of policy and economic impact analysis as well as fiscal analysis of bills.
“Parliament’s role in public financial management is clearly defined in the country’s various laws – it is an institution that approves the budget, monitors and holds the government accountable,” Prof. Oquaye explained.
He therefore stated that the conference has come at a time when the country is “operationalising its Budget and Fiscal Analysis Office to access the Parliament of Ghana to oversee the management of public finances”.
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, in a speech, urged member-countries and political leaders to efficiently allocate scarce resources to the continent’s development priorities.
“This way, we can together move toward Africa Beyond Aid, a strategy envisioned by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. This is because efficient and effective resource allocation for the attainment of 2063 agenda is a collective effort for all stakeholders in the national budget process.”
According to him, the national budget spells out the socio-economic policy agenda as well as resource allocations in the medium- to long-term, which impacts all facets of the nation and its people.
Part of these is that choices made in the national budget must reflect in the aspirations of the people; in embodying the development of their aspirations, people can use parliament’s oversight role over a national budget process to transform their lives through legislations, budget and fiscal oversight. Parliaments can improve public financial management systems and reduce fiscal risk that threatens economic growth of nations, he noted.
Furthermore, he stated that the effective exercise of parliament’s mandate however requires high quality research and analysis, focused on both the short- and long-term budget outcomes necessary to establish stronger policy, legal and institutional frameworks.
The question is no longer whether parliaments have a role to play in the budget process, but rather how Public Financial Management systems can be designed to facilitate the constructive inclusion of parliaments in the budget process in order to maximise transparency, responsiveness and accountability.
The Global Network of Parliamentary Budget Officers (GN-PBO) was established in 2013 to enable the practices of Parliamentary Budget Officers and other analysts that support their respective parliaments and parliamentarians in the budget process.
The conference’s main objective is to enhance the capacity of Parliamentary Budget Analysts to effectively provide technical support for the Members of Parliament in the area national budget processes.
Participants at the conference were drawn from South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Canada and Cambodia. Expected outcomes of the conference include enhanced capacity of PBOs, and learning lessons from other countries to inform the establishment of Ghana’s Budget and Fiscal Analysis Office.