The oversight committees include Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC) and Public Investments Committee (PIC).
Speaker Ndugai made the remarks over the weekend during the official opening of a one-day workshop on ‘Accountability and Transparency in Open Contracts’ for Parliamentary Oversight Committee members organized by WAJIBU – Institute of Public Accountability.
In his address, Speaker Ndugai informed committee members that the new CAG, Charles Kichere, who was appointed by President John Magufuli on 3rd November, 2019 and sworn in on the next day, would be reporting to the parliamentary office on Monday, 11 November 2019 (today), for an official introduction.
“This appointment opens a new chapter between us and the office of the CAG. I know Mr. Kichere very well. I believe that he is coming do his job with open arms, and we will work together professionally. I would therefore like to request you honorable members to receive and show him you’re best of support,” said Speaker Ndugai.
He further commended WAJIBU Institute under the leadership of its Executive Director, Ludovick Utouh, who also happens to be a retired CAG, for organizing the timely training for members of the parliament.
“In national matters such as planning and production, the process of procurement cannot be avoided. I therefore believe that through this training on accountability and transparency in open contracts, the understanding of committee members on public procurement processes will be broadened, which will ultimately assist them in overseeing this sector appropriately,” said Ndugai.
Ndugai also proposed reforms in the controlling and auditing of the public sector, insisting particularly on the timely receiving of reports and investing more on the aspect of control.
“Parliament is supposed to deal with current and hot issues. We should therefore look into how we can catch up with the circle of public expenditure so that we are not left behind,” he said.
In addition, Speaker Ndugai said that the office of the CAG and Parliament have to a large extent exhausted its auditing mandate but lag behind in the aspect of control.
“In our system, the aspect of control is not properly affixed, and so that we move into that aspect, we need to create a conducive environment through the constitution and respective legal frameworks so that our offices can have the clear mandate in doing so,” Speaker Ndugai said while referring to cases of other parliaments in the world which have a ‘Power to purse’ system which allows parliament not only to pass budgets for public institutions but to also refer back to them when the respective institutions want to utilize the money at hand.
“Nevertheless, I understand that this kind of change has to take place gradually, so that we can all reach our targeted objectives,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Naghenjwa Kaboyoka said that the training is very beneficial for members of the committees because it allows the respective parliamentarians to understand their duty in overseeing the government.
“As you may already know, members of our committees are changed after every 2 and half years. Therefore, these kinds of workshops help new members to gain the right knowledge and experience in overseeing the government,” said Kaboyoka.
Kaboyoka added that such trainings will help committee members to also understand their legal duty in performing checks and balances, doing away with the misconception that they are here to oppose the government.
“Parliament is supposed to oversee government, and not the government to oversee parliament,” she emphasized.
For his part, the Executive Director of WAJIBU Institute, Ludovick Utouh, said that the among the modules that were being addressed in the workshop was transparency and accountability in public procurement act of 2011, open contracts, accountability reports and indicators of corruption in the public sector, and negotiations in procurement in the public sector.
The modules were delivered by WAJIBU Institute in collaboration with public institutions such as PPRA, PSPTB, and the non-governmental organization HIVOS. A total of 72 oversight committee members attended the conference.