MPs express resolve to effect positive change in budgetary process

PILDAT convenes briefing session to enhance parliamentarians’ understanding of budgetary process

ISLAMABAD   -   Over two hundred recommendations on PSDP proposals to the concerned ministries, in the last one decade, never accepted nor a reason for the rejections was shared, which is a violation of the National Assembly Rules of Procedure & Conduct of Business.

This was shared in a briefing session, aimed at enhancing parliamentarians’ understanding of the budgetary process. The discussion, titled ‘Empowering Parliamentarians for Effective Budgetary Oversight,’ provided a platform for insightful discussions and deliberations on critical reforms to improve Pakistan’s parliamentary budget process.

The MPs expressed a sense of urgency and collective resolve to effect positive change in Pakistan’s budgetary process.

In his concluding remarks Omar Ayub Khan, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, expressed his support for PILDAT’s recommendations for budgetary reforms. He underlined the need for empowered standing committees and improving the efficiency of bureaucratic support within various government divisions and ministries.

Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, chairing the session underscored the importance of parliamentary oversight in ensuring fiscal responsibility and accountability. He emphasised the need for an inclusive and transparent budget process, focusing not only on allocating funds but also ensuring these funds are used for intended outcomes. He said executive dominance must be balanced with empowering parliamentary committees, pre and post budget scrutiny and amending Article 84 of the Constitution of Pakistan, as suggested by PILDAT. He further added that exploring participatory budgetary models can enhance citizen engagement in the budgetary process.

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT, delivering a presentation titled ‘Pakistan’s Parliamentary Budget Process – What Needs to Change?’ provided an overview of the parliamentary budget process, highlighting the key events including the Budget Strategy Paper, the role of standing committees in vetting the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) budgetary proposals, and the presentation of the Annual Budget Statement in the National Assembly.

He analysed the trends in the last 25 years, when each budget session, on average, lasted only 14 days and less than 45% of MNAs participated. He drew comparisons with India and China, and recommended five major changes to the budget process.

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