Parliaments and the Budget
Course Delivery Dates
This moderated E-Learning module contains the following units, with weekly discussions among people in the parliamentary community throughout the world:
The evolution of parliament’s power of the purse: Parliaments have struggled for a role in the budget process. This unit gives an overview of the history of parliamentary involvement in public finance. Much of this module focuses on the development of the House of Commons, which was at the forefront of claiming the ‘power of the purse’, but other countries are also considered.
Introducing the budget: The second unit is a basic introduction to the budget and some related concepts that frequently feature in discussions on budgeting. It looks at the definition of the budget and its components, including revenues, expenditures and the deficit, as well as some of the key objectives of budgeting.
The budget process: The budget cycle in government typically involves a number of different actors and follows a sequence of essential steps. This unit introduces some of the main participants of the budget process and presents a simplified and generalized outline of planning, approving, implementing and auditing expenditures.
Parliamentary approval of the budget: One or perhaps the main task of parliaments in budgeting is to review the draft budget tabled by the executive for the upcoming fiscal period. This unit provides an overview of some of the key issues that make for effective scrutiny of the executive draft budget including parliament’s constitutional powers, its committees, the timing of the budget process, and access to relevant information.
Parliament and the audit of public accounts: Many parliaments not only approve the budget, but also assess the integrity of budget execution through involvement in the audit process. This unit looks at different approaches to parliamentary audit. It covers the types of supreme audit institutions and the types of audits they conduct, the interaction of auditors with parliament, the role of parliamentary committees, and, finally, the use of follow-up mechanisms to ensure that governments implement recommendations for improvements that are generated through the audit process.
Opening up the parliamentary process: Many parliaments are considering whether to open up the parliamentary budget process to the media and the public, or whether they could more directly benefit from outside expertise for the scrutiny of government finance. This unit looks at the pros and cons of opening up committees to the public and how a committee can organize public hearings on the budget.
Strengthening parliamentary involvement: To conclude this module the final unit offers a short diagnostic framework that can be used to assess the effectiveness of legislative financial scrutiny in particular countries.
Budgeting in the public sector is inherently complex as budget documents can comprise thousands of pages, the format of the budget is not always easily understandable, and thorough analysis can take a lot of time. Budget scrutiny can be a daunting challenge facing legislators when they are asked to consider the annual revenue and expenditure proposals of the government. At the same time, the influence of national legislatures on budget policy has declined in many industrialized countries. Many legislatures are rethinking their role in the budget process and reasserting themselves as more active players. The purpose of this training module is to make a contribution towards supporting parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to effectively participate in the budget process.
While it has been designed especially for parliamentary staff, it is open to all participants and will be of particular interest to journalists, civil society groups and officials working in ministries of finance.
|Target Audience:||Parliamentary community and other academics|
|Time Commitment:||8 hours per week for 4 weeks|
|Amount:||US $ 0 (course is free of charge)|
|Contact Name:||Vienna Pozer|