SWAKOPMUND - Public Accounts Committees of Parliament have a huge role to play in preventing illicit financial flows that continue to affect the coffers of African governments. This sentiment was repeated by various speakers at the opening of the regional public financial management training for improved budget oversight and accountability which started in Swakopmund on Monday
Members of Parliament and parliamentary support staff are in attendance.
The training, part of a series of meetings of the Southern African Development Community Organisation of Public Accounts (SADCOPAC) that have taken place since last week is being organised by the African Organisation of Public Accounts Committees (AFROPAC) in collaboration with GIZ.
Members of Parliament from various SADC countries are gathered in the coastal town since last week Thursday for the SADCOPAC annual general meeting.
Speaking at the official opening of the training on Monday, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Loide Kasingo noted that illicit financial flows have continuously robbed Africa of its much-needed financial resources.
“Illicit financial flows are estimated to be currently more than four times Africa’s foreign debt with major sources being tax evasion by multinationals, criminal activities such as piracy, corruption, bribes and smuggling, transfer pricing and embezzlement of public funds,” reiterated Kasingo.
The Deputy Speaker believes Public Accounts Committees are the panacea for change and restoring good public financial management, especially when Africa has set Agenda 2063 that calls for strong reforms and growing economies.
“The African Union Agenda 2063 is embarking on reforms aimed at addressing varied challenges such as growing our economies and curbing corruption. It is for this reason that we need strong parliamentary oversight committees such as the Public Accounts Committees that provides checks and balances to ensure transparency in the utilisation of public financial resources,” she stated.
Namibian Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee at the National Assembly, who also chairs the SADCOPAC organisation, Mike Kavekotora shared similar sentiments saying Public Accounts Committees ensures accountability on any government related expenditure.
Kavekotora suggested that due to the critical role played by Public Accounts Committees, there was a need to broaden their scope.
“They play an important role in the accountability process in that they hold governments, inclusive of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to account for the usage of scarce public resources. There is a need to broaden their scope and have the power to investigate or review all past, current and committed expenditures of government. Currently some committees have the power to review only past audits,” said Kavekotora.
Erongo Regional Governor, Cleophas Mutjavikua who equally accentuated the importance of Public Accounts Committees, noted at the opening of the annual general meeting that preceded the training, that the success of SADCOPAC was dependent on collaborations and support from all stakeholders.
“We bear testimony to the many accomplishments you have achieved as an organisation such as capacitating MPs and staff. To make an impact in your role, you need collaborations and partnerships with accountability bodies in pushing for reforms meant to achieve prudent financial management in the region,” said Mutjavikua.
SADCOPAC launched in 2003 in Windhoek, is an organisation comprised of SADC member states with the responsibility of empowering Members of Parliament in member states to effectively carry out their functions of oversight over public sector finances and the promotion of good governance in the region. The training that is underway will look at pertinent issues such as budgeting for the sustainable development goals, challenges and key tasks of Parliamentary oversight in the budget cycle among others.
Countries in SADC currently active in the organisation include Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Namibia is hosting this year’s event with over 100 Members of Parliament from SADC countries belonging to Public Accounts Committees of Parliament and their staff in attendance. The training ends on Friday.