MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) hope to influence a sensible budget for the country from now onwards.

The glimmer of hope from the legislators comes after undergoing a workshop where they were taught on the importance of proper budgeting for any country, especially in times of economic or financial crisis.

The workshop started on Monday and it is expected to end today at Esibayeni Lodge in Matsapha.

The workshop was aimed at educating MPs who are members of the finance sessional committee in the House of Assembly.

The workshop is facilitated by Sterling Afrika Training and Consultancy, which is one of the reputable organisations in matters concerning business and finance management.

The local MPs were participating with their counterparts from Uganda in the workshop.

The Ugandan MPs are said to have a long working relationship with Sterling Afrika, a company based in Pretoria, South Africa. The facilitator was Austin Bolatimi, who is a Cameroonian national, but based in Pretoria.

The theme of the workshop is: “Prioritising public sector budget and resource allocation in hard economic times.”

Local MPs are represented by Mangcongco MP Patrick Pha Motsa, Ludzeludze MP Bambumuti Sithole, Nhlambeni MP Frans Dlamini, and Dvokodvweni MP Musa Sitezi Dlamini.

About 13 legislators from Uganda are part of the workshop.

Motsa and Sithole have expressed hope the country would improve now that they had taken part in this workshop. Sithole said he believed the workshop would now enable him to help the minister for finance to come up with a sensible budget for the country. Sithole narrated that the workshop gave them more insight into the oversight role that should be played by the MPs in ensuring the Cabinet budgeted to develop the country. “I am optimistic that from now, Parliament will now have informed MPs in budget matters and things will never be the same from now. We have seen that we have to practice programme budgeting, instead of income-oriented budgeting,” Sithole said.

When asked to clarify between the two, the Ludzeludze lawmaker said the programme-centred budget was focused on putting up a budget that would finance developmental needs of a country. An income-centred budget only focused on balance between income and expenditure. The MP also learned that at times, it was good for a country to budget for a deficit, only if that deficit was aimed at developing the country, not just to increase salaries of civil servants and politicians. Motsa, who is the chairperson of the sessional committee, said there were many things he learned from the workshop so far.

He said he now understood why budgeting was always centralised. That, according to the MP, was informed by the finances collected by the state institutions, like the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA). The government workers who determined the budget also had access to the financial performance of government, so they would always be able to plan budgets with the available resources.

Published in Swazi Observer on 27 April 2017 by Mbono Mdluli