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The 2016 Budget: NAMs must monitor its implementation

Dec 14, 2015, 9:42 AM

The Appropriation Bill 2016, which is the National Budget for the coming year, is to be read today at the National Assembly.

The reading of the budget, which spells out government expenditures, taxes and other revenues to achieve national development goals, has followed some level of debate or scrutiny at the National Assembly to determine how well it is for us as a nation.

The Appropriation Bill 2016 has gone through some stages of budgeting process, such as preparation and approval of the budget, hence it means that National Assembly members had revised it and are okay with it.

It also means that our destiny and decent existence as a nation is determined and shaped by the Appropriation Act, which is the approved budget for the next 12 months.

There are many aspects and policy formulations embedded in the budget which lend more weight to the fact that the third stage of the budget process – which is the implementation stage - must be judiciously carried out, so as to fish out our economy from the abyss of the national and international debt it is in presently.

It is a fact that lack of fiscal discipline has been playing a great role in most of the slippages being experienced by our economy in recent years.

As a result, the economy has been faced with somehow sluggish GDP growth, accelerating inflation, debt overhang and other macroeconomic problems.

This situation, in most economies around the world, generally occurs in the absence of fiscal discipline, transparency, accountability and, in particular, unsustainable level of fiscal deficits with reliance on banking system credit.

For us to curb this trend in our economy, strict fiscal discipline must be observed; and in the course of 2016, therefore, we expect our National Assembly members to play their role efficiently and effectively by thoroughly monitoring the implementation of the budget by the government.

As the Upper Nuimi National Assembly member said, it is the responsibility of assembly members as representatives of the people to monitor how public expenditure and revenue collection is done; in other words the implementation of the budget.

Assembly members are not there only to approve appropriation bills when taken to them at the National Assembly. In fact, in some cases and countries, a national budget is caused to be amended, or rejected if it is not appropriate in the true sense of the word, by national assembly members or parliamentarians.

To ensure fiscal discipline, the Legislature has a responsibility for auditing and monitoring the expenditure of the Executive to ensure conformity of the actual expenditure with the approved budget/appropriation Act.

This ensures that the public gets value for the expenditure of the government.

If this aspect of the budget process is not done efficiently, it allows for misappropriation of public funds, or diversion of one programmed fund to another, constituting fiscal indiscipline.

“A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it.”

William Feather