Budget oversight through good governance is important because it makes governments work for the people, the World Bank emphasized at a joint workshop for parliamentarians and government officials from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam on March 4, 2013.
Alassane Sow, country manager of the World Bank in Cambodia, explained that governance is about the process of decision-making. It’s the process by which decisions are implemented so government can deliver better services to the people.
“Building a system of budget oversight requires budget transparency. It also needs the involvement of all actors,” he said. “A full disclosure of all relevant fiscal information, in a timely and systematic manner, is critical. This will promote effective oversight by formal government institutions as well as informal networks and actors that have a key stake in the outcomes of the national budget,”
Cheam Yeap, the chairman of the Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking and State Audit for Cambodia, said that governments are responsible for parliamentary oversight.
“The budget is at the heart of efforts to improve governance and accountability in all countries. It is crucial in reducing poverty. The parliament can make an important contribution by expanding its oversight role throughout the budget cycle,” he said.
World Bank Senior Public Sector Management Specialist Leah April shared good practices for transparency. She said that budget transparency requires clear roles and responsibilities, an open budget process, and reporting. The Finance Ministry should also actively encourage citizens and government organizations to understand the budget process.
“There are many benefits if the government increases transparency. There is a growing international consensus and compelling evidence demonstrating that fiscal transparency is directly linked to improved social outcomes and greater economic stability,” she said.
Participants looked at the progress of the parliaments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. They also discussed the challenges involved in overseeing the national budget. They then developed future action plans for each country based on lessons learned from their experience.
The three-day workshop was supported by the World Bank, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the European Union.
Representatives of the National Assembly Committees on Finance and Budget, Supreme Audit Institutions, and Economy and Finance Ministries from the three countries attended the workshop.