Improving Economic Governance through Control of Public Finances

Improving Economic Governance through Control of Public Finances

This training was a great opportunity for us, not only did it allow us to debate our ethical conduct at work, but also to reflect, individually and in a group, on the best ethical behavior to be adopted outside the workplace. We face ethical decisions every day.

Iolanda Fortes, Court of Auditors of the Republic of Cape Verde, after she participated in a 3-day training on 'Auditors´ Ethics and Professional Judgment' along with other 40 auditors and judges from the PALOP and Timor-Leste

CONTEXT

Though geographically dispersed, PALOP countries and Timor-Leste share a strong common linguistic and cultural identity, similar systems of governance and a tradition of cooperation and exchange. Despite significant progress in terms of economic governance over the past decade, public administrations remain hampered by weaknesses, including inadequate institutional capacity, skills and human resources. This has undermined effective public finance management, budgetary oversight and control of public resources, which has significant adverse impacts on other governance and development sectors.

OBJECTIVES

  • Design, organisation and delivery of capacity development activities as a powerful tool to enhance the skills of its beneficiaries to ensure efficient control of public finances in Portuguese-speaking African Countries – PALOP (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São-Tomé and Principe) and Timor-Leste.
  • Strengthening institutional capacities and human resources of supreme audit institutions. This should be accomplished through expertise and high level advice made available in different domains, including: Management and auditing of public finances; design, programming and budget planning; project monitoring and evaluation; strengthening accountability; and integration of accounting and information systems.
  • Promoting dynamics of transformational change through exchange of experiences; peer learning; access to information and knowledge; and establishment of a good practices network between supreme audit institutions, parliaments and civil society organisations. This objective foresees a comprehensive set of training modules (including eLearning), seminars, conferences co-organised with specialised institutions, non-profits and civil society organisations.
  • Strengthening the capacities of parliaments in order to ensure that they can play their role in overseeing the supreme audit institutions' public accounts auditing activities and ensuring civilian control of executive-branch activities and use of public funds, with particular focus on synergies between the legislatures and civil society organisations.

RESULTS

  • Supreme audit institutions' capacities strengthened to the extent that they are able to regularly produce and disseminate documents related to public accounts auditing and monitoring of government activity.
  • Exchange of experiences, peer learning and enhanced access to information, allowing the standardisation of good practices and capacity-building of supreme audit institutions and parliaments.
  • Legislatures and civil society capacities are developed through synergies and partnerships between parliaments and civil society organisations, facilitating the increase of civilian control and parliamentary oversight of government policies and use of public funds.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Pro PALOP-TL SAI, in collaboration with its national partners, supported human resource development in the six beneficiary countries to promote governance reforms as an important factor for sustainable development.
  • A 9-month formulation process was carried out that included 24 partner institutions representing supreme audit institutions, parliaments, ministries of finance and CSOs from all six PALOP-TL countries in participatory working sessions.
  • The formulation process permitted the development of 20 operational work plans to be implemented throughout the course of the project.
  • The working plan provided the basis of almost 200 activities and over 1000 actions to be delivered between January 2014 and December 2016.

TESTIMONY

EU Ambassador in Cape Verde discusses the importance of PALOP-TL cooperation and the role of institutions engaged in control of public finances

This project is important for various reasons but especially for being, on the one hand, a development project between the PALOP countries and Timor-Leste – meaning the Portuguese-speaking ACP (African, Pacific & Caribbean) countries – and therefore enabling South-South cooperation between partners who have a shared history, culture and experience. The partnership between the PALOP partners and Timor-Leste and the European Union has now been in existence for more than 20 years and numerous areas of interest have been enriched by this project. The design allows us to extend cooperation between the PALOP and Timor-Leste to a new domain within traditional development cooperation with the European Union, in particular in the area of capacity-building for monitoring the use of public funds via institutions such as the courts of auditors, parliaments and even civil society.

On the other hand, the fact that this project seeks to empower public finance audit institutions, parliaments and civil society is also an important step towards the consolidation of democracy in these countries and also an important step for the development of a culture of accountability and monitoring of the use of public funds for the benefit of the people. These audit and external control institutions play a very important role in the consolidation of democratic systems. Due to their engagement, legitimate elected leaders of national governments manage public funds in accordance with an agenda reflected in the respective states' budgets and government programmes. It is therefore necessary that independent government institutions have the ability to monitor the usage of these funds in accordance with the applicable laws, notably in terms of procurement, identifying priorities, compliance with government programmes, as well as to respond to the aspirations of the people. Along these lines, by participating in capacity development offered through this project, the three strands – courts of auditors, parliaments and civil society – will be able to better perform these roles.