by Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive, July 16, 2012:
Now we know why Treasury Board President Tony Clement did not think twice before spending $50-million of G8 funds in his Muskoka riding. Why Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page threatened to sue the Harper government for refusing to comply with his repeated requests for financial and related information. Now we know why some of the Conservative Government’s publicized spending figures are always untrue. Why sometimes they are millions of dollars below the actual figures.
The latest report by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates tells us that “arcane rules are keeping MPs in the dark about the billions in government spending they should be scrutinizing.”
New Democrat Pat Martin chairs the Committee.
The Globe and Mail explains of the report, which was “released without fanfare”:
“Members of Parliament receive conflicting, outdated information about how billions of tax dollars are being spent each year, and get little opportunity to review fiscal plans. Just this spring, not a single House of Commons committee was able to report on its examination of some proposed spending because the information arrived too late — and the session clock ran out.”
The report: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=5690996&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1
Is it a consolation that the report is titled: “Strengthening Parliamentary Scrutiny of Estimates and Supply”? That the Committee proposes 16 steps to improve transparency and accountability?
OK, two of the recommendations are easy to identify with. Both make a lot of sense to you and me.
That the House of Commons give its Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates the mandate to undertake a study of the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer which would include a thorough analysis of the mandate and function of the Office in order to better serve members of Parliament; and that in its study, the Committee should consider all structural models for the Office including, but not limited to, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reporting directly to Parliament as an Officer of Parliament.
Imagine PBO Page with enough firepower to crack whip against truant federal government departments and agencies.
That the government develop a searchable online database that contains information on departmental spending by type of expense and by program.
All the 16 recommendations are HERE.
The Canadian Progressive recommends: