Special Budget oversight Select Committee sets the way forward

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • To investigate all ministries prior to Committee Stage Debate
  • Enables members to question officers on transactions and plans
  • Saves time on Budget debates
By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent The Select Committee appointed to discuss expenditure estimates of select Ministries presented its report yesterday to Parliament, with a set of recommendations to be followed annually during Budget stages. “These recommendations will enable us to review the progress of ongoing programs and to analyse the action plans,” said Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management and the Leader of the House Nimal Siripala de Silva, who was the Committee Chairman. In its report the Committee recommended that Parliament improve the Select Committee procedure and continue it in the future signifying that “it would be more productive if the estimates of all heads of expenditure are considered by a Select Committee before the Committee Stage debate every year.” “This will provide a good forum for the Members of Parliament to have matters clarified with the officials, which facility is not available in Parliament during the Committee Stage debate of the Budget. It will also pave the way to place before Members of Parliament the progress made during the current year and the development plans for the ensuing year. Therefore, with a view to improving this procedure, your committee recommends that a permanent Standing Committee be appointed for this purpose, which can continue its deliberations throughout the year. The Committee summoned the Secretary to the Ministry and the other relevant officials of the relevant Ministry and institutions coming under such Ministry, and also the officials of the General Treasury, the Department of National Budget, the Department of National Planning and the Department of State Accounts to participate at the discussions of the Committee, to provide clarifications that may be required during the course of discussion,” said Minister de Silva. According to the Minister, the Select Committee has prepared a program and circulated it among all Members of Parliament on 25 November 2013, intimating that all Members of Parliament may participate in the discussions of the Committee. “This procedure of discussing annual estimates at a Select Committee before the Committee Stage has proved very successful and productive as a number of outstanding matters have been clarified and resolved at the meetings. This is the fourth occasion a Parliamentary Select Committee was appointed to discuss the annual estimates of selected Ministries, after the previous occasions in 2008, 2011 and 2012 respectively. The committee appreciates the growing interest in the members towards this Select Committee and increasing participation of members in its discussions,” said Minister de Silva.