Course: Parliaments and the Budget (Self-Paced)

Course Details

  • Target Audience: Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff
  • Time Commitment: 30 hours
  • Language: English
  • Platform: Free on World Bank's 'Open Learning Campus'
  • Contact: Vienna Pozer (

About the Course

Budgets affect all of us and are the most important economic policy tool of a government, detailing the priorities of a nation. In this course, we learn how legislatures ensure that the budget optimally matches a nation’s needs with available resources.

Course Overview

Budgets affect all of us. Businesses analyze budget policy in order to make investment decisions that impact on growth and employment. As citizens, we depend on the state to provide crucial services and infrastructure. Whether new roads will be built, whether our children will have schools to go to or whether clinics can adequately cater for the health care needs of the population depends, to a large extent, on the way government raises revenues and allocates money to meet various competing and sometimes conflicting needs.

The budget is the most important economic policy tool of a government and provides a comprehensive statement of the priorities of a nation. As the representative institutions of the people, national legislatures are the appropriate place to ensure that the budget optimally matches a nation’s needs with available resources. Effective legislative participation in the budget process establishes checks and balances that are crucial for transparent and accountable government and ensuring efficient delivery of public services.

Governments are large and complex institutions, and this is reflected in their budgets. Measured in terms of revenues and numbers of employees, some national governments are among the biggest organizations in the world. This makes budgeting in the public sector inherently complex. Budget documents can comprise thousands of pages, the format of the budget is not always easily understandable, and thorough analysis can take a lot of time. Budget scrutiny can be a daunting challenge facing legislators when they are asked to consider the annual revenue and expenditure proposals of the government.

From a long-term perspective, the influence of national legislatures on budget policy has declined in many industrialized countries. It now appears, however, that many legislatures are rethinking their role in the budget process and reasserting themselves as more active players. The purpose of this training course is to make a contribution towards supporting parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to effectively participate in the budget process. 


By the end of this six module course, you will be able to:

  • Understand Parliaments Role in the Budget Process.
  • Define the Budget and its Components.
  • Understand the principles of good budgeting.
  • Explain the budget process for parliamentarians.
  • Understand the various roles that parliament plays in approving the budget.
  • Understand the role of parliament in the audit of public accounts.
  • Explain how public meetings influence the budget process.

Course Outline

  • Module 1: The Evolution of Parliament's Power of Purse
  • Module 2: Introducing the Budget
  • Module 3: The Budget Process
  • Module 4: Parliamentary Approval of the Budget
  • Module 5: Parliament and the Audit of Public Accounts
  • Module 6: Opening Up the Parliamentary Process


If you experience any technical or content difficulties with the course, please don't hesitate to contact Vienna Pozer at