The 2018 AN-PBO Conference will build on the achievements and discussion of the first two Conferences held in 2016 and 2017, which both had a theme ‘THE ROLE OF PBOs IN AFRICAN PARLIAMENTS FISCAL OVERSIGHT: CONTRIBUTION TO THE AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT AGENDA’. The Conference theme explored different roles played by African PBOs in supporting their Parliaments’ fiscal oversight over the Executive.
Many African countries have economic development strategies in place. Their citizens expect Parliament to play significant role in ensuring that development strategies are adequately represented in government budgets, and that they take into account their citizens’ views. Parliaments also look to ensure that there are mechanisms in place for oversight of public finance, with a view to ensuring adherence to development strategies.
The AN-PBO is a platform for African Parliamentary Budget Offices and other similar institutions to meet and share ideas and experience in order to strengthen their support for Parliamentary fiscal oversight. The AN-PBO Conference also draws on the experience and knowledge of other stakeholders within the fiscal oversight and public governance environment.
2018 AFRICAN PBO CONFERENCE KEY THEMES
The 2018 AN-PBO Conference is the 3rd conference from a series of network activities hosted by the South African Parliamentary Budget Office as agreed by the Network in 2016. The 2018 Conference continues the overarching theme of the 2016 and 2017 Conferences. However, unlike the previous two conferences, in 2018 the approach is to hold panel discussions around the following themes:
Public finance situation and development path in Africa-
Various African countries and regions have set developmental objectives, which include continent level aspirations, such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and recent developments related to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Public finance and fiscal policies are expected to contribute towards attainment of these development objectives. At the same time, there continues to be global macroeconomic uncertainties and opportunities that affect achievement of the development goals. The panel discussion allows discourse in terms of opportunities and challenges for the Continent’s economic development. The aim is to examine the role that Parliaments’ fiscal oversight could play in realising developmental goals and shaping an economic growth path.
PBO and support for fiscal oversight-
In this panel discussion various PBOs will share their specific role in their country’s budget cycle. At what point in the cycle do PBOs provide their analysis to their Parliaments? The session will also provide an opportunity for other stakeholders involved in the budget cycle to share their experiences. The aim of this session is to share lessons and best practice with newly established PBOs.
PBO governance structures: International experiences lessons of best practice-
There is a mixed approach globally on whether PBOs have legislation guiding their establishment or not. Some PBOs are located under Parliament Administrations while others are stand-alone entities. In order for a PBO to deliver on its mandate, the office should be protected from undue influence. Defined governance structures and operational processes help PBOs to operate without undue influence. Different PBO governance structures and experiences will be explored in this panel discussion with a view to sharing lessons and insights of established PBO’s with newer PBOs.
Technical analysis and other work by PBOs -Budget Analysis-
In this panel discussion, PBOs will showcase some of their technical analyses including their budget analysis work. This process is intended to share best practices and facilitate peer group learning amongst PBOs and countries wishing to establish PBOs. Since PBOs generally provide parliaments with technical analysis on budgets and related matters, access to certain technical expertise and datasets are prerequisites for effective PBOs. This panel discussion further provides an opportunity to discuss some of the important capacity requirements for an effective PBO.
Effective communication of technical analysis
The PBOs are staffed with economic, finance, policy and related specialists. MPs are usually not expected to be specialist in these fields. In this panel, PBOs and other stakeholders will share their experiences of how they tailor their products and analyses to effectively support the oversight function of their respective Parliaments, particularly for MPs who may not be specialists. The input of MPs in the audience will be requested for insight as to whether PBOs take heed of their concerns for user-friendly outputs.
Public participation in the budget process-
During this panel discussion the speakers will share their countries/ entities experiences with regards to the process of public involvement during the Parliament budget process. But also in cases where there isn’t public involvement, how do Parliament engages with public related to oversight over public finances and service delivery. The discussion will also look at various tools or frameworks used by respective legislature bodies or PBOs to involve the public in the budget process. The MPs and other PBOs would have an opportunity to look at their budget process in relation to the public involvement expectations, or assess the extent to which the budget process take into account the citizens or government service users.