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Association of Parliamentary Budget Committees explores effective
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
September 19, 2011
The SADC Association
of Parliamentary Budget Committees (SADCAPBC) met on 25 August in
Johannesburg, South Africa, to explore effective oversight strategies
on natural resource extraction, climate change, poverty alleviation
and budget formulation.
is a regional platform that affords Members of Budget and Finance
Committees an opportunity to network, share knowledge and best practices
on parliamentary budget oversight. This initiative also avails regional
budget committees an opportunity to tap ideas from the academia
and civic society on cross-cutting public finance and economic development
subjects. The ultimate goal is to promote pro-poor budgetary policies
in order to attain sustainable development and economic justice
in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since inception in 2010, the membership of
this organisation has expanded to include Zambia, Zimbabwe, South
Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, Malawi and Botswana.
The meeting drew 22 delegates from Angola, Swaziland, Zimbabwe,
South Africa and civil society organisations involved in the climate
change and poverty discourse.
On the first
day the Conference focused on climate change and Accountability
in extractive industries as well as poverty situation in the SADC
region. It was agreed that there was a serious need for parliamentarians
to mainstream climate change and governance in budgetary policy-making.
The following are key highlights of this Session:-
- Climate Change
was a major challenge which had the potential to compromise food
security in African countries;
- Climate finance
was available at a multilateral and bilateral level for countries
to access to mitigate climate challenges, as well as to implement
adaptation and responses to this challenge;
conditionalities were however, compromising the ability of countries
to access this funding;
Change and mitigation strategies create an opportunity for advancing
employment opportunities through a drive for environmentally friendly
- Poverty and
inequality were noted to be major characteristics of SADC countries
following a regional study; and
- Natural resource
extraction requires more transparency and accountability in the
Members of Parliament
also shared experiences on these topical subjects and agreed that
there was need to engender transparency in the exploitation of natural
resources in SADC countries. It was also agreed that there was need
to take on board climate change issues during parliamentary debates
to ensure that the development agenda embraces this discourse.
The second session focused on imparting tools for budget tracking
and monitoring as well as gender budgeting. The following are key
highlights of this Session:-
regarding budget processes in SADC countries was rather mixed,
with South Africa being judged as having the most open budget
process in the world, based on a survey by the International Budget
- Other countries
that were covered by the survey included Botswana, Malawi, Angola,
Zambia, Namibia and DRC, whose budget processes remained weak;
- MPs recommended
the need for a peer review mechanism so as ensure that there was
harmonisation of budget processes and standards in the region;
- There was
a need for a human rights approach to budget making in the region;
- Gender budgeting
was also noted to be a major instrument that sought to improve
the welfare of society.
In the discussions
that followed, the subject of gender budgeting became topical. MPs
agreed on the need for gender mainstreaming in national budgeting.
Angola revealed that in a Cabinet of 35 ministers, 19 were women,
whilst in the National Assembly of 220 MPs, 84 were women. It was
agreed that the entire subject of gender mainstreaming required
everyone to go beyond cultural barriers in order to understand the
gender discourse better.
was conducted in an interactive manner that allowed legislators,
civil society and the academia to interface and thus managed to
chart common ground on developmental challenges faced by member
countries due to climate change. The loud message that came out
of the two-day conference was that there was need to mainstream
climate change in the broader development agenda. In this regard
Parliaments were urged to take a prominent role in advocating for
a broad-based all-inclusive development agenda that recognised the
stark realities of how climate change rolled back sustainable development.
also asserted the role of Parliament in holding the Executive to
account on the governance framework in the natural resource extractive
sector. There was absolute unanimity across all countries represented
at the conference on the need for accountability and transparency
in natural resource exploitation which has the potential to mobilise
resources for economic development.
The focus on
budget monitoring and tracking tools has been a major milestone
in closing research and analytical gaps which will enhance Parliamentary
oversight in the SADC region. The coverage on gender budgeting was
also very strategic as it brought to the fore the need to mainstream
gender issues in national policy formulation. The exchange of ideas
across the topics that were delivered during the two-day conference
provided MPs with an objective basis for sharpening their budgetary
oversight role in their respective parliaments.
It was agreed
that there was need for MPs to integrate the outcomes of the conference
when designing their committee work-plans in their respective parliaments
by incorporating climate change, and extractive industries accountability
and transparency issues.
implored the MPs to continue to share information among themselves
whilst at the same time deploying the knowledge acquired in developing
motions for tabling in their respective parliaments in order to
influence national development policies and budgetary outcomes.
These initiatives would, without doubt, improve their capacity to
engage the executive in a meaningful way that will result in the
formulation of good policies for the benefit of their citizens.
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