Ghana’s Parliament is hosting the 4th African Network Parliamentary Budget Officers Conference on the theme “The Role of African Parliaments in Fiscal Oversight: Contributing to the African Union’s 2063 Development Agenda”.
Parliament’s decision to host the conference will coincide with the inauguration of its Budget and Fiscal Analysis Office that will assist Parliament to undertake real time surveillance of public finances by providing an independent, objective and professional analysis of policy proposals that are presented to the house.
Opening the three-day conference yesterday (Monday) which is being participated by delegates from Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Canada, the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye said the setting up of a non-partisan independent committee that will give technical advice to Parliament in the area of international financial agreements and budget policies was very paramount to achieving the economic goals of the country.
According to him, the effectiveness of Parliament in scrutinizing these financial agreements and government budgets that come to Parliament will be greatly enhanced with the establishment of this office and pleaded with the government to make resources easily available for the operation of this non-partisan advisory financial body for Parliament.
He said Parliament as an institution- was constitutionally mandated to execute the power of the public purse- it was very important for it to be properly equipped with the capacity to effectively control the public purse and do proper oversight.
He said Parliament would ensure that very experienced experts in these areas who are known to be apolitical are recruited to serve in that office.
The Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation and Member of Parliament (MP) for Old Tafo, Dr Anthony Osei-Akoto- who represented the vice president, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia- who was supposed to have been the guest speaker, said that Africans must unite to achieve a common goal and praised leaders of certain African countries that have started implementing the parliamentary budget office, as a way of improving the oversight responsibilities of their respective Parliaments to ensure effective use of their national resources.
He noted that even though Ghana is now joining the league of African Network of Parliamentary Budget Officers, it now has the Right To Information (RTI) Bill, which will ensure that the new advisory office for Parliament becomes very effective.
He therefore appealed to all member countries of the African Union to have similar laws in place to boost public accountability and effective use of public resources.