The second Global Parliamentary Report was officially launched and Pro PALOP-TL ISC is a reference for the cooperation between parliament and supreme audit institutions (SAI).
Box 37 of the report – page 79, shares three examples of how the legislatures can engage with SAI to enhance control and oversight of public expenditure:
Cooperation between parliament and supreme audit institutions in Portuguese speaking countries
The Pro PALOP-TL SAI project1 strengthens the capacities of supreme audit institutions, national parliaments and civil society to engage in external monitoring of public finances in five African countries with Portuguese as an official language – Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe – as well as in Timor-Leste (PALOP-TL standing for “Países Africanos de Língua Official Portuguesa e Timor-Leste”). It provides a unique opportunity to foster and observe synergies among the core actors of Public Financial Management Systems (PFMS) in these countries.
A seminar in Guinea-Bissau in February 20172 brought together more than 50 representatives of SAIs, parliaments, ministries of finance and civil society to evaluate progress in external control and social monitoring of PFMS in the respective countries. Data presented at the seminar showed that interactions between parliament and SAI tend to be limited to the once-per-year formal relationship foreseen in the legal framework.
Experience from the PALOP countries and Timor-Leste highlights three opportunities to enhance collaboration between parliaments and SAIs:
Learning events for SAI auditors, MPs and parliamentary staff from the PALOP countries, Timor-Leste, Brazil and Portugal. These have helped to share best practice and promote cross-party dialogue. They were critical in helping to reform the legal framework of the court of auditors in Cabo Verde.
Targeted capacity development of MPs, parliamentary staff and legislative committees, particularly the ‘money committees’. This is strengthening legislative oversight of the budget cycle in Cabo Verde and Mozambique using the main budget documents (the executive’s budget proposal, the enacted budget, the in-year expenditure reports, the midterm evaluation, the end-year report, and the audit report). As a result legislatures are becoming more confident and demanding in their relationship with SAIs. SAI reports are questioned in more detail, and audits are requested more frequently from the SAI during the fiscal year.
Specialized training in gender-related oversight of public expenditure. This is allowing the legislature to engage with the executive in a programme/output based discussion during the budget formulation phase to identify gender markers aligned with SDG 5 targets and indicators to be inserted in the PFMS. Women’s caucuses are engaging more effectively inside parliament and with SAIs to advocate for performance audits targeting gender-related public expenditure. This practice started in Cabo Verde in 2016 and is now being adopted by all the other PALOP countries and Timor-Leste.
These are three examples of how legislatures can engage with SAIs to enhance control and oversight of public expenditure, and accelerate the delivery of SDG 5 and SDG 16.
This is the second Global Parliamentary Report, jointly produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), and presents an in-depth research and analysis on the current state of parliamentary oversight.
The report is considered a reference for setting international standards for democratic parliaments.