Audit Warns Parliament Against Signing Away Power ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The National Audit Office has warned the Parliament Finance Committee that the new draft legislation on the state budget drafting process could dilute the role of the legislative branch.

Currently, the country's budget process starts with the Cabinet's operational program. On the basis of that document, the state budget strategy is drafted, specifying funding, actions and outcomes.

According to the new draft State Budget Act, the state budget strategy establishes ceilings on funding that can only be changed if financial forecasts permit or if state budget policy priorities change.

But the draft law does not explain what happens if Parliament passes policy strategies or amends a development plan so that the ceilings must be changed.

Currently, the operational program and the state budget strategy and ceilings set for four years are not necessarily presented to Parliament - only if the Cabinet so chooses.

It is thus not possible to track or verify the correlations between parliamentary policy goals and actual financing decisions, said the National Audit Office.

"As a result Parliament must clearly decide whether such a role in strategic planning and policy making is acceptable and advisable or not," said Auditor General Alar Karis in a letter to Finance Committee Chairman Sven Sester.