When my Voice Counts
“The Role of Legislative Council in Improving Government Performance in Kassala State”
Kassala, 15-16 October 2014: Senior government officials, parliamentarians and locality administrations met over two days to discuss the role of the legislative council in improving government performance in Kassala state. This consultative workshop was supported as part of UNDP’s Local Governance Development and Public Expenditure Management (LGDPEM) project with a particular focus on the important role that can be played by local MPs in monitoring and accountability of government performance.
The practice in Kassala state, Legislative Council calls on the government executive organs to present their performance each three months. The logic behind the quarterly reporting is to allow the parliament to closely follow-up on the implementation of the Annual Plan and Budget. In case of delays or shortcomings in performance or financial reporting, the council summons the relevant institution and interrogates it.
The overall objective of the two days was to enhance the technical capacity of MPs to play the policy formulation and oversight roles that meet the aspiration of the local communities. These roles are particularly essential for the sustainability of a social contract in areas pertaining to service delivery and other broader aspects of local governance. The MPs also play a major role in scrutinizing democratic processes within the local legislative councils while advocating for equality and greater citizen engagement in decisions that affect the vital of aspects of their lives.
Participants from across the state deliberated intensively on the notion of oversight, recommending greater technical collaboration between the legislative and executive organs of the government and a succinct strategy for building the capacity of Audit Office to follow and track finances and performance. Tracking the performance of line ministries and public institutions remains a challenge. In this respect, the MPs who participated in the workshop pledged to oblige ministries and institutions to provide regular performance reports for review and decision making. “This is a good workshop in the sense that it brought together executives, senior officers, civil societies and parliamentarians to discuss best practices and strategies for representation and oversight. It is a good training for advancing the local communities’ interests,” noted Mr. Malasi Ohaj, MP representing Kassala city.
- The UNDP Local Governance Development and Public Expenditure Management (LGDPEM) Project is designed to build momentum for scalable policy actions to transform governance and public service delivery in Eastern Sudan. In order to optimize the State Governments’ capacity for resource planning and public service delivery, reverse the negative trends in socio-economic indicators and strengthen the overall governance and public expenditure management systems, a long-term change programme was imperative. For the past four years the LGDPEM project has achieved significant results in the three states of Eastern Sudan, with the generous contribution from DFID, Netherlands, Norway and UNDP.
This workshop aimed to assess the effectiveness of the quarterly performance reviews and the role of the MPs in providing policy advice and oversight. Discussions throughout the two days showed strong intent and interest from participants and organizers in enhancing public participation around governance issues in Kassala State, and eventually at the national level. In this regard, one of the key recommendations from the workshop was to enhance training and capacity development efforts for MPs to effectively carry out their roles. “This workshop is a standard induction course for parliamentarians. It orients MPs on who they are and what their role is”, stated Mr. Mohamed Tahir Osham, MP representing Rural Kassala in the National Assembly.
The Local Governance Development and Public Expenditure Management (LGDPEM) Project remains an important initiative for supporting improved local governance and public service delivery for local communities in Eastern Sudan.