Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
A WORLD Bank team that conducted a review of Jamaica's legislature has concluded that the Parliament's infrastructure is woefully inadequate and significantly undermines the work of members of parliament (MPs), committees, and parliamentary staff.
In a report tabled in Parliament yesterday, the group pointed to steps that would contribute to proper oversight of public funds. These include better research support for MPs and committees, enhanced information and communication technology, greater staff to support the committee clerks, and a professional development path for parliamentary workers.
New building needed
The World Bank team also highlighted the need for a new building to house Parliament. The group said adequate facilities were critical for members and the public oversight committees to perform their responsibilities more effectively.
The report comes at a time when Jamaica's debt inches closer to the $2 trillion mark. "Addressing this challenge will require a clear prioritisation of spending and a collective effort to squeeze efficiencies from limited public funds. It will also require attention to Jamaica's fiscal policies and budget-management practices," the report stated.
It has been argued that Parliament should play a critical role in helping the Government put Jamaica's public finances on a more sustainable path and make public spending more effective.
Outlining steps that would enhance Parliament's impact on sound public financial management, the World Bank review indicated that the legislature could play a greater role in the pre-Budget process, debating in a plenary session the Government's Budget priorities.
The World Bank report is a response to a request from the Jamaican Government to review the structure and capacity of the Parliament to undertake its constitutional role with respect to oversight of the nation's public finances.
The report was compiled after wide-ranging consultations with members of parliament, government officials, parliamentary staff, civil society organisations, private citizens, the media, and business executives.