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WFD and National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia launch new Parliamentary Budget Office

Caption: WFD CEO Mr Anthony Smith and Deputy Speaker of the NARS, Mr Veroljub Arsic, on a joint press conference in Belgrade
 

Serbian MPs' ability to scrutinise public spending will be boosted from today by the launch of a Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).

The new body is the result of a longstanding collaboration between the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia (NARS) and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) on parliamentary strengthening work across the Western Balkans region.

Today marks the start of the PBO's development as an Office providing analysis for MPs on Serbia's economy, the Government's Budget's proposals, and other legislation which deals with fiscal issues. After an initial capacity-building period working together with partners from the Scottish Parliament, responsibility for the PBO will be transferred from WFD to the NARS.

Deputy Speaker of the NARS and Chairman of the Committee for Finance, State Budget and Control of Public Spending, Mr Veroljub Arsic, said:

"Starting today, the National Assembly and the Committee for Finance, State Budget and Control of Public Spending have another tool in conducting financial scrutiny – the Parliamentary budget office. The National Assembly has great expectations from this Office, because it should secure help and support for MPs during the budget process, especially the process of reporting and finalising the budget."

The Rt Hon Tricia Marwick MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, said:

“The robust scrutiny of public finances is a key function of any parliament and it is a measure of the success of our Financial Scrutiny Unit that it is being used as a model by the National Assembly of Serbia. I am pleased to see this positive outcome from the Scottish Parliament’s work with the National Assembly and I hope that our two Parliaments will continue to cooperate in the years to come.”

WFD has worked closely with the Serbian Parliament in the past, first through a two-year programme in 2011-13 and then through the Network of Parliamentary Committees which has strengthened cooperation across the Western Balkans.

Now WFD's staff will be based in the Serbian Parliament itself as they seek to achieve the establishment of the PBO, develop a more robust system of financial oversight, and increase capacity of the NARS's staff and committees.

"This Office will provide MPs with practical assistance which will directly help their scrutiny of financial matters," WFD Chief Executive Anthony Smith said.

"Its development is a great example of what we can achieve by working in partnership with parliaments and sharing democratic experience from across the UK."

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