In most parts of the world, parliaments play an important role in overseeing and holding the executive to account on behalf of the people. Through this core oversight function, parliament ensures that government policy and action are both efficient and correspond to the needs of the public.
Budgetary Oversight and Accountability
The budget process has an impact on national development and the welfare of the people. Parliaments therefore have a critical role in ensuring that the budget is designed and implemented with the citizens’ needs in mind. The Parliamentary Centre has worked with over 20 legislatures in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Americas to strengthen the role of parliaments during the various stages of the budget process. The Centre has helped strengthen the capacity of parliamentary committees and parliamentary staff to support this process, and provided support during the development and strengthening of independent budget analysis offices and other support services.
In order to support parliaments in the oversight of public spending and to exercise financial control, the Centre has helped strengthening the roles and functions of Public Accounts Committees. The Centre has also assisted in establishing proper working relationship with extra-parliamentary institutions of accountability, such as Supreme Audit Institutions.
In democratic systems, parliament has a number of tools and mechanisms to its disposal to oversee and hold the executive accountable, such as questions to ministers, hearings, interpellation and votes of no confidence, as well as the possibility to establish ad-hoc committees, commissions of enquiry or an ombudsman’s office. The Parliamentary Centre has assisted a number of legislatures on how to use these tools and other mechanisms to better monitor the implementation of legislation and policies, as well as in overseeing and assuring that they are having the desired impact for the people they represent.