biti presenting budget.jpgThe Ministry of Finance has been challenged to formulate the budget policy framework early ahead of the 2012 national budget presentation in order to ensure an inclusive participatory process.

Delays in finalising a budget policy framework for next year’s budget are threatening to lessen stakeholder participation the budget making process.

The budget policy framework or strategy paper is a tool that was introduced under provisions of the Public Finance Management Act to guide the Ministry of Finance through the appropriate portfolio committee in gathering stakeholder opinion for consideration in the national budget.

Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust Executive Director, Mr John Makamure said the budget strategy paper is an important tool that allows Parliament and other stakeholders to discuss and interrogate the budget before it is tabled.

“The budget policy framework has to preceed the actual budget. In other countries, it is actually tabled 3 to 6 months before the main budget presentation,” Mr Makamure said.

According to the 2011 Mid Term Fiscal Policy Review statement, the budget strategy paper was supposed to be launched early August and tabled in Parliament.

However, this was delayed and there are only about 9 weeks to go before the budget presentation.

Although there has been an improvement in stakeholder participation since the enactment of the Public Finance Management Act last March, public hearings were held late thereby having little impact on the structure and content of the budget.