Accountability still missing from budget process despite Executive promises – Farry

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry has said that the accountability deficit between the Assembly and the Executive is deepening.

Stephen Farry said: “Prior to the Finance Minister outlining the budget reallocations I raised a Point of Order with the Speaker regarding a lack of consultation and engagement by most Departments with their Assembly committees around their current financial management and pressures.

“The Finance Minister is keen to stress the robustness of a new approach to in-year financial management. However, this need not be at the expense of proper accountability with the Assembly and its Committees. There was a curious line in the Minister’s statement where the Executive seem to be saying what is appropriate in terms of parliamentary scrutiny.

“I, and many others, are concerned that we are seeing a shift by stealth in the balance between the Executive and the Assembly regarding financial scrutiny; and, indeed, the deputy First Minister has been at pains in the past to stress that the Assembly has to be given its place in that regard.

“I have asked the Speaker to look into this matter and ensure that the Assembly – and our Committees, in particular, which have a statutory duty to hold Departments to account and provide scrutiny – are being given their proper place in the financial process. It is about time the Executive came up to the mark on their promise to be more open and transparent.”

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