GPP seminars II & III: Financial Accountability and Budgetary Transparency & Institutional Renewal

Where and when

18-19 November 2009, Bazaleti Lake Resort, Georgia

Description

On 18 and 19 November, CESS and the Georgian Centre for European Integration Studies (CEIS) organised two seminars within the framework of the Georgia Parliamentary Programme. In the beautiful surrounding of the Bazaleti Lake Resort, we discussed two different topics within the context of democratic oversight of the security sector. The first day stood in light of ‘Financial Accountability and Budgetary Transparency’, whereas the topic of the second day was ‘Institutional Renewal and Creating Effective Mechanisms’. Probably the most important instrument of a Parliament is the ‘power of the purse’. A Parliament in a democracy should be well-equipped to scrutinise, judge, review and approve the annual national budget including the defence budget. During the first day of this two-day event we learned how, and to what extent the Georgian parliament exercises oversight over government budgets, and defence budgets in particular. Following this, an interactive presentation by Peter Vanhoutte really triggered the participants to think about whether there may be room left for improvements in this regard. After lunch we discussed the different procedures and mechanisms the respective parliaments in Georgia and the Netherlands have at hand to be able to exercise budgetary oversight, with special attention for the institution of Audit Offices. This first of two seminars ended with a lively discussion which covered all the topics of the day. The moderator, Peter Vanhoutte, praised the participants for the quality of the discussions and concluded that on the one hand most tools for exercising democratic control over (defence) budgets, for instance a Chamber of Control, are available in Georgia. On the other hand however, he also stressed that there is still room for improvement. With this in mind, he complimented the participants and laid emphasis on the importance of their work as parliamentarians and parliamentary staff – the latter being the institutional memory of the parliament – to keep looking for possible improvements. The aim of the second day was to share and discuss ideas with regard to institutional renewal. Institutional and procedural renewal is essential for the improvement of the efficiency of parliamentary oversight. By assessing the needs of the participants, we wanted to shed light on possibilities for the improvement of institutions, procedures and mechanisms. Moreover, special attention was given to the role of Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) in this regard. As with the financial Audit Office, the afternoon session on the second day was centred around the institution of a Military Ombudsman. Such an Ombudsman can be seen as a concrete example of institutional renewal which could lead to better democratic oversight of the defence sector. In quite some (Western) countries such an institute has already proven to be successful. Two representatives of the Dutch equivalent of a Military Ombudsman, the Inspector-General of the Armed Forces, explained amongst others what different forms of Military Ombudsmen exist and how this institute operates in the Netherlands, whereupon a discussion was set in motion whether there is a need for such a body in Georgia. After the concluding discussions, Henk de Haan from the Board of CESS and Vasili Tchkoidze, president of CEIS, thanked everybody for their active participation in both seminars. Following this, the event came to a conclusion with a lovely reception, during which the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Georgia, Mr. Langenberg proposed a toast to everybody present, looking back at two days of interesting and fruitful discussions.

Programmes

Georgia Parliamentary Programme: a capacity-building and good governance programme

Questions

If you have any questions regarding this event please contact CESS.