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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

Afghan legislators attend budget training course in Washington, D.C.APA Study Tour October 2011

Members of Parliament and staff from the Afghan National Assembly attended a challenging series of budget-related roundtables and training sessions Oct. 11-21 in Washington, D.C. The training was organized by SUNY/CID’s USAID-funded Afghanistan Parliamentary Assistance Program (APAP) and funded by the World Bank. The program joined a week-long series of discussions arranged by the House Democracy Partnership on congressional budgeting activities and the functions of theSUNY/CID Director Malcolm Russell-Einhorn is fourth from right Congressional Budget Office with a World Bank Institute (WBI) training course on “Budgetary Institutions, Parliamentary Oversight and Government Accountability.”  APAP’s Budget Team Leader, Raju Kalidindi, arranged the training and accompanied the delegation, while the WB financed the program. 

The Afghan constitution grants Parliament considerable budget oversight powers, yet in the years following Parliament’s inception in 2005, the capacity to exercise these prerogatives was limited. While Parliament quickly asserted this authority through its rejection of the first budget submitted to it, with the assistance of APAP, Parliament has made significant strides in developing its ability to exercise this authority responsibly. The Parliament’s ability to analyze and track executive budgets has increased substantially, and they have increasingly succeeded in garnering important changes before final passage including the inclusion of provincial, sectoral and gender priorities.

This training was designed to build upon these successes and train newly-elected MPs to ensure the continuity of recent advances. In the first week of the program, developed in collaboration with John Lis of the House Democratic Partnership, the Afghan participants met with representatives from the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office, the House Committees on Appropriations, Budget, Rules, and Ways and Means to discuss the U.S. Congressional budget process

The WBI training program was designed by Anwar Shah, lead economist and program leader for the Governance Program at the World Bank Institute and Salvatore Schiavo-Campo served as the lead trainer. Dr. Schiavo-Campo’s extensive experience as leading budget expert with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations as well as his previous consultation for APAP on budget oversight matters make him an ideal candidate to train Afghan legislators. Topics of the training included the budget formulation process, simple medium-term expenditure frameworks, participatory budgeting and the role of public accounts committees.

The delegation was lead by Secretaries General Gran and Malwan of the Wolesi Jirga (lower house) and Meshrano Jirga (upper house) respectively and included 17 MPs and staff from both houses of the National Assembly. This training is an excellent example of the synergies that can be found through creative donor coordination.  Pairing USAID and WB initiatives and expertise sets a valuable precedent for future collaboration.

Posted Nov. 21, 2011