MPs Consult Provincial Representatives on National Budget Priorities
To improve local ownership of the National Budget process, the Afghanistan Parliamentary Assistance Project (APAP), in collaboration with the National Assembly, conducted a five day consultation between members of Parliament and their Provincial Council counterparts. Forty provincial representatives from eight provinces attended the workshop entitled, "National Budget Execution and Program Implementation Oversight" from March 7-9 in Kabul. Participants received training on the national budgeting process, programme budgeting, and the roles of the National Assembly and provincial bodies in budget formulation and oversight. Additionally, ideas for creating stronger links between the Provincial Development Plans (PDPs) and provincial budgeting processes were exchanged with the aim of achieving national development targets.
The workshop gave members of Parliament, drawn mainly from the Budget and Economic Committees, a rare opportunity to receive input on provincial priorities from the Provincial Council members for the 1389 Budget, before its review by Parliament. The workshop also provided the Provincial Council members insight into the kinds of information they must provide to indicate their provinces' budgetary requirements. But perhaps most importantly, the workshop was valuable in re-establishing communication channels between the national and sub-national levels through interaction between members of Parliament and provincial representatives. These links are vital to bringing the local closer to the center; a critical component of building confidence in Afghanistan's democratic institutions, which, in turn, impacts national stability.
Speaking to the media after the event, Ms. Fatima Shirzad, a Provincial Council member from Kabul, said that "This will enable me to execute my oversight functions efficiently and effectively. I also had the opportunity to meet with MPs and discuss issues of concern to our constituents."
Fazel Hadi Muslimyar, First Deputy Speaker of the Meshrano Jirga (upper house), acknowledged the importance of such consultations prior to debating the Budget. He explained that, because provincial representatives are more closely connected to constituents relative to national leaders, "Provincial Councils play a very important role in socio-economic development, as well as in nation-building through the realization of democratic institutions" at the local level.