The Jamaican Parliament, over the years, has had a challenge with effective analysis and interpretation of financial documents that are required to be examined by members of its oversight committees, in particular members of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Committee membership comprises a wide cross-section of individuals from different business and academic backgrounds who may not be equipped to form their own analyses of financial documents tabled, particularly in a non-biased manner.
The mandate of the PAAC includes:
- The examination of budgetary expenditure of Government agencies and other public bodies to ensure that expenditure is done in accordance with parliamentary approval;
- Monitoring expenditure as it occurs and keeping the Parliament informed of how the Budget is being implemented.
The mandate of the PAC includes examining:
- the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by the Legislature to meet public expenditure;
- such other accounts as may be referred to the Committee by the House or under any Law; and
- the report of the Auditor General on any such accounts.
- all accounts and financial statements tabled in the House of Representatives in respect of statutory boards, public corporations and public companies in which the Government holds majority shares.
While assistance has been given to the PAAC, with the support of the World Bank in some cases and through the Ministry of Finance in others, there has been limited analytical support for the work of the PAC.
The World Bank, in its report titled “Jamaica Parliamentary Oversight of Public Finances – An Institutional Review”, which was tabled in the Parliament in 2013, recommended that the committees be provided with permanent independent support on budgetary matters which could be accomplished through the establishment of a technical unit headed by a Parliamentary Budget Officer. We have therefore sought to identify suitably qualified consultants to assist us with the development of a Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), the development of which we believe would strengthen the committees’ ability to effectively fulfill their respective mandates and improve the quality of reports reproduced. This would also cause the committees to be in receipt of direct and unequivocal support to meet their research and analytical needs.
Jamaica’s objectives for attending the Annual Global Network of Parliamentary Budget Officers (GN-PBO) Assembly are to:
- Gain insight on the relationship between PBOs and their respective Parliaments
- Garner information on the mechanisms involved in the provision of scrutiny and monitoring of government activities and the use of public finances
- Learn more about the intricate duties of a PBO
- Identify opportunities for inter- Parliamentary networking
- Identify resources that we can tap into to assist with the development of the budget office.