Parliamentarians on Thursday sought an effective role for themselves in the budget-making process aimed at incorporating the needs and priorities of the public in the budget.
Members of parliament expressed their strong support for the new role, saying presently their role is confined only to debate and simply rubber stamp crucial decisions.
An amendment in the rules of budget-making was discussed by members of parliament during a meeting of the National Assembly’s standing committee on rules of procedures and privileges. The committee agreed to form a sub-committee comprising parliamentarians and law and finance ministry officials to review and amend the existing rules. The sub-committee would present its report to the main committee for final approval. The sub-committee would also look into the rules and procedure of other countries, including India, to gauge the budget-making role of parliamentarians in other countries.
They added that sufficient time should be given to parliamentarians before the budget to ensure the needs of the public aren’t compromised. The amendment bill was moved by MNAs Syed Innayat Ali Shah, Syed Saqlain Hussain Bokhari and Anusha Rehman.
PML-N MNA Anusha Rehman felt parliamentarians should hold pre-budget sessions and the bureaucracy should ensure that their recommendations be incorporated into the budget. She emphasised the need to incorporate their recommendations, at least in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), adding that a huge percentage of the budget was allocated to the programme, yet a majority of the projects only served the interests of the bureaucracy.
“We know the needs and necessities of the public and we should have a direct input in the budget-making process”, she said, hoping that the rules would be changed in the next fiscal year.
MNA Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor agreed that it was a good idea to include parliamentarians in the budget-making process. “At present there is no role for members in the budget other than delivering speeches and getting it passed,” he added.
MQM lawmaker S A Iqbal Qadri believed that the main function of parliamentarians was making legislation and addressing financial matters, but unfortunately, legislations are finalised by draftsmen and financial matters are finalised by bureaucrats.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.