GN-PBO Network - An Eye Opener for Zimbabwe

Pursuant to the need to enhance its Budget and Financial oversight function, Parliament of Zimbabwe has established a Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) which began operations on the first of September 2016. The Zimbabwean Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) was established in terms of Section 154(4) of the of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides that; “The Committee on Standing Rules and Orders must appoint such other staff of Parliament as it considers necessary.” This constitutional provision gave Parliament the operational autonomy and independence to appoint Staff of Parliament to actualise the proposed functions of the Parliament Budget Office. The purpose of the Zimbabwean PBO is to provide independent, objective and professional advice and analysis to Parliament on matters related to the budget, economic policy and money bills. It serves as a technical support unit to the Parliament and its Committees on budget and financial matters regarding analysis of audit reports, macro-economic and micro-economic policies as well as monetary policies. Parliament of Zimbabwe resolved to adopt a phased introduction of the budget office, which currently has engaged 2 Senior Analysts. The approved structure has 7 Senior Analysts to cover various areas of specialization.

The 2017 Global Network of Parliament Budget Offices (GN-PBO) annual Assembly

The Zimbabwean PBO is thrilled after having attended, for the first time, the GN-PBO Assembly held in Ottawa from 5 to 7 June-what a network of Great Minds! The Assembly is a knowledge exchange platform and what is particularly fascinating and intriguing about it is the manner of delivery. The discussions are held in an interactive, participatory, relaxed and more engaging setting which is the best in exploring different perspectives from the diverse PBO and IFIs as opposed to a stereotype manner of present-listen-discuss. Zimbabwe is proud to be the newest member of the family.

The benefit obtained from this assembly, particularly for a new PBO like Zimbabwe’s is summarised below: -

  • Sharing experiences, best practices, challenges as well as problem solving- Zimbabwe shared its story in a Case Clinic where the community offered valuable suggestions with regards to codification of the creation of the PBO by law and Medium term budgeting. What came out clear was that legislating the functions and work of the PBO, which is very critical for PBO sustainability, is not an overnight task. Despite the presence of legal backing, PBOs must strive for credibility and relevance because legal backing alone is not a guarantee of sustainability as it can be reversed if the office is found wanting. The community also empasised the need for the Zimbabwean PBO to recruit the best staff, engage in continuous capacity building through trainings, exchanges with other PBOs and constant engagement with clients like CSOs. The Zim PBO was impressed by the bold declaration by NABO that it is better skilled than their counterparts in the Executive;
  • The undertaking and emphasis by Assembly members on the need for peer review of analyses within the network to improve the quality of output. Zimbabwe looks forward to benefit and contribute meaningfully in this regard;
  • There is need to provide comprehensive information to the legislature and other clients in a compact, summarised user friendly and attractive manner through data visualization tools. The Serbian PBO presentation of their use of Adobe illustrator to captivating Info Graphics was particularly interesting and challenging;
  • Zimbabwe appreciated and took note of the need for credible forecasts and on time service delivery which is one of the strengths of NABO of Korea. The accurate forecasts produced by NABO have enhanced its credibility and thus it has a strong buy in from MPs which is a plus in terms of obtaining support for requests of additional resources;
  • The need to entrench gender sensitive budgeting within Parliamentarians and the Executive at large was reiterated. The Ugandan success story in this regard was sensational and interesting! We look forward to benefit from their expertise as well as other champions in this area;
  • The ways to strengthen the cordial working relationship between the PBO and the Committee Clerks especially the Budget Committee Clerk were satisfactorily explored; and
  • Identification of opportunities for inter- PBO networking with fellow PBOs and IFIs

The Zimbabwean team of Pepukai Chivore (Senior Macroeconomic analyst) and Sherpherd Kamango (Senior Accounting and Auditing Analyst) are grateful to the GN-PBO organisers particularly the IFSD and the World Bank for facilitating Zimbabwe’s inaugural participation at this Assembly. We look forward to sharing our amazing and successful stories as well as getting encouraging and informative testimonials and best practices from colleagues .

Let’s keep the network going!

Contacts: Phone: +263-4- 700181-8, 252931/936/7/940/2/45/6 ext 2011/2012