Give Us More Experts: House of Representatives
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the Financial Accountability Body at the House of Representatives, said the government should increase the number of experts in the House Budget Committee to better scrutinize the state budget.
Eva, who recently returned from England, said it was ironic to see limitations of the Budget Committee, known as Banggar, in scrutinizing the budget compared to the House’s power to supervise the government’s budget use.
“Banggar is only supported by seven experts with a complete range of expertise and a clear working orientation. In the end, it will affect Banggar’s performance,” the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker said.
She said Tom Josephs, England’s head of staff for the Office of Budget Responsibility — similar to Banggar — told her that to help Parliament scrutinize the state budget draft, the OBR was supported by many experts, including 16 economists, several public financial analysis, communication and management specialists.
The OBR is also supported by a panel of seven technicians in the methodology sector, she added.
Its job is to make economic and fiscal projections, including estimating the impact costs of new government policies. They must also assess the progress made from the government’s fiscal policies.
The OBR also conducts long-term fiscal sustainability for the next 50 years and makes evaluations of previous activities at the end of the year.
“With so much support from the OBR’s researchers, Parliament can play a maximum role in critiquing the state budget throughout the whole year,” Eva said.
In order to give Banggar the same capacity as its English counterpart, the government’s support and House leaders’ commitment are needed, she said.
“The government and House leaders should offer the same political commitment to improve the capacity and effectiveness of the budget committee so that it can carry out its supervisory function well,” she said.
Eva said that if the government supported the idea, it could discuss a plan to strengthen Banggar when the House revised the MD3 Law, which it is scheduled to do soon.
The MD3 law is Law No. 27/2009, which regulates the People’s Consultative Assembly, House of Representatives and Regional Representatives Council.