Public finances

In many political systems, parliaments are responsible for approving the budget and controlling government spending, so that funds are used effectively, efficiently and fairly and  are not misappropriated. However, legislators do not always have access to the financial information they need to fulfil this role, while the executive enjoys privileged access to economic and financial forecasts.

As part of Westminster Foundation for Democracy’s (WFD) eight-part series on financial accountability, this brief focuses on the role of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). The majority of the work of the PBO takes place during the budget formulation phase, although some of the PBO’s work could occur outside the regular budget cycle. Citing examples from WFD’s experience supporting PBOs, this brief examines:

When it comes to parliamentary oversight of government spending, Public Accounts Committees (PACs) tend to be viewed as the go-to committee for keeping an eye on government spending ex-post. PACs are viewed as the ‘final stop’ in the public financial management (PFM) cycle. PACs are essentially the last line of defence in the end-to-end public financial management process. As part of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy’s (WFD) briefs on financial accountability, this brief examines:

As part of Westminster Foundation for Democracy’s (WFD) eight-part series on financial accountability, this brief focuses on the role of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) and whether they are fit for purpose in the age of COVID-19 and beyond. This brief outlines how SAIs play an integral role during the ex-post oversight stage, as well as how SAIs can:

  • contribute to the implementation of national priorities;
  • increase their value-added role; and
  • work with parliament and the executive branch to strengthen their value-added.

Risk of debt distress can be analogous to standing too close to the edge of a cliff. Forces beyond our control, such as natural disasters, global economic downturns or falls in commodity prices can push countries right over the edge into debt distress. Indeed, the global economic crisis resulting from COVID-19 has pushed some countries closer to the edge and others over the cliff. For example, Lebanon was propelled into debt default for the first time in its history, when it halted a Eurobond payment of $1.2 billion in early March.