Parliamentary Budget Office

What is a Parliamentary Budget Office(PBO)?
  • A PBO is an independent and impartial body linked directly to Parliament
  • A PBO is comprised of independent and specialised staff, such as Budget analysts, economists, public finance experts
  • It provides technical and objective analysis of Budgets and public finance to the House and its committees
  • Its core functions include Budget approval, scrutiny of its implementation
  • The PBO must be non-partisan, independent and mandated to serve all parliamentarians
  • Its output, and the methods by which those outputs are prepared must be transparent, accessible and understandable
Why PBO is needed?
  • Some experts have argued that Parliament does not require a functioning PBO
  • But this argument is flawed because Parliament is a Budget-approving body and its members must be well-informed for a legitimate approving process
  • PBO is an instrument for addressing bias towards spending and deficits
  • It can generate quality public debate on Budget policy and public finance, enabling parliamentarians to engage meaningfully in the Budget process
Functioning PBOs in other countries
  • The functioning PBOs are in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Australia, Austria, South Korea, Italy, and Mexico
  • There are PBOs established in subnational legislatures, such as California, Ontario, Scotland, and New South Wales
  • Also, New York City has a well-functioning Independent Budget Office (IBO)
Core functions of PBOs
The majority of PBOs have four core functions:
  1. Independent and objective economic forecasts
  2. Baseline estimate survey
  3. Analysing the executive’s Budget proposal
  4. Providing medium- to long-term analysis
The core functions of the PBO should be codified in law.
The way forward
  • Parliamentary scrutiny of public finance is an important aspect of governmental accountability
  • There is a legitimate democratic need in this country to strengthen the capacity of Parliament and its members
  • Parliamentarians have a role in establishing the PBO
  • As representatives of the people, Parliamentarians can help improve Budget policies by providing inputs on public needs and priorities



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