Parliament to establish standing committee on budget – The Namibian

SPEAKER of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi yesterday said parliament is considering establishing a standing committee on budget to ensure citizens play a leading role in the budgetary process.

Katjavivi said this is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen parliament oversight over the government’s budget.

He said there is an impression that the legislature does not do more than rubber stamp the budget proposals from the Ministry of Finance.

He noted that the National Assembly has already established the select committee on budget, which may translate into a full standing committee on budget.

“This committee, once fully established, will look at how best citizens will have a role to play during the formulation of the government budget,” Katjavivi said.

Among others, the select committee reviews the budgetary estimates required for the National Assembly operations before they are submitted to the Ministry of Finance for approval.

He was speaking in Windhoek at the opening of a budget analysis and advocacy workshop for members of parliament.

He said the National Assembly is also keen on the establishment of a parliamentary budget office to support standing committees and members of parliament in the budget approval, and oversight of budget execution.

“We are looking forward to working with our development partners to make these initiatives a reality in our quest for efficient and effective oversight,” he said.

It has been the tradition of the National Assembly to organise a budgetary workshop after the tabling of the appropriation bill.

Finance and public enterprise minister Iipumbu Shiimi last week tabled a N$84,6 billion national budget for the 2023/24 financial year.

With the assistance of experts, parliamentarians focused their diagnosis of the budget proposals on overall macro-fiscal framework, education, with a specific focus on basic education, health and social protection.

The speaker said the workshop seeks to improve the members’ quality of debate during the approval phases and consequently enhance oversight on budget implementation. It will also enable them to play “a more proactive and strategic role of advising the government on key priorities and areas for improving future public financial decision-making processes”, he added.

The workshop was held in conjunction with the Unicef office in Namibia to strengthen the role of parliament to effectively perform its oversight function.

Unicef country representative Rachel Odede hoped the workshop would make recommendations to the minister of finance and sector ministries on how to improve the budget-making process for better outcomes.

“Unicef remains committed to supporting and working with the relevant government ministries to improve the budget-making process for better outcomes for children and people of Namibia,” Odede said.

She also noted some key positive outcomes of the 2023/2024 budget. She commended the government’s “strong commitment and appropriations to social sectors benefiting children, which continue to receive a significant share of the budget at 53%. The government’s commitment to preserve the value of the social grants and expanding child coverage is commended”.

Odede further applauded the government for its commitment to sustain high levels of spending in education, with the hope to transform education.

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