The Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, said it is the responsibility and mandate of Parliament and the Executive, who account directly to the people that elect them, to ensure budget openness and monitor its execution.
While making a presentation at the two-day Global Legislative Openness Conference in Kiev, Ukraine on Saturday, Oulanyah noted that while stakeholders such as civil society have an input in the process, governance belongs to government, which is elected by the people and that such actors can only come in as support institutions in rendering expertise and guidance.
“Parliament and civil society cannot be put at the same level in realizing the principle of budget openness because unlike Parliament, civil society is not accountable to the people. We are partners but some people are supposed to make the decisions and take the fall for the wrong decisions they make,” he said.
Alluding to the concept of “no representation, no taxation” Oulanyah said there is need to first have representatives of the people making an assessment of the fairness of taxation such that by the time a budget is approved, it is not only the wish of the government but also blended with the views and aspirations of the people.
Oulanyah urged Parliamentarians to ensure that the policies, laws and budgets that are passed focus on the general interests of the people and protect the vulnerable groups like children and women.
He reminded them of the timeless definition of government of the people, by the people and for the people warning of the dangers of populism for the sake of winning elections other than service delivery.
The Deputy Speaker credited the Parliament of Uganda for a budget process model that is based on inclusiveness, openness and transparency.
He points out that budget consultative conferences are held, engaging stakeholders like local government, civil society, the general public, amongst others.
This, he said, is supported by the composition of Parliament that includes special interest groups like people with disabilities, representatives of workers, youth and the army. He said Uganda ranks high in the principle of open budget process.
The conference, hosted by the Ukrainian Parliament, is being held under the central theme of legislative openness.
It attracted participants that included legislators, government officials and civil society representatives who sought to see how Parliaments and public institutions can rebuild and maintain trust with the public they serve.