The mid-year meeting of the Executive Committee of the Asia Regional Association of PACs (ARAPAC)

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This is a blog post by Niall Johnston of the World Bank Parliamentary Strengthening Programme.

The mid-year meeting of the Executive Committee (ExCo) of the Asia Regional Association of PACs (ARAPAC) took place in Kathmandu, Nepal on 24 and 25 February 2015.

As Nepal currently chairs the Association, a key order of business was to make arrangements for the 2015 Annual Meeting and it was agreed that this would take place in Nepal in the second week of September - precise dates will be announced shortly via the ARAPAC web site http://arapac.publicaccountscommittees.wikispaces.net/home

The ExCo approved a series of recommended amendments to the Association's Constitution and these will be put to the General Assembly in September. Most of the amendments were consequential upon a decision that only national PACs (or a legislative committee with similar functions) should be eligible for membership.

Also approved was a paper recommending benchmarks that PACs across Asia can utilise to self-monitor their effectiveness. This follows on from work carried out by the World Bank Group, CPA, UNDP, IPU and others on benchmarking and performance indicators. If approved by the General Assembly, member PACs will be asked to review themselves against the agreed benchmarks and agree action plans that will lead to improved effectiveness whilst honouring national custom and practice.

There was considerable discussion on the subject of the role of PACs in the future and a general acknowledgment that the traditional approach of simply scrutinising audit paragraphs is outdated in the current era. Tackling corruption and ensuring effective use of public funds will require increased attention to money-laundering and procurement processes as well as engaging citizens more actively in provided inputs to hearings.

The importance of following up on PAC recommendations was also emphasized. It is no longer enough to issue a report and, if the Executive is to be held to account effectively, it will be necessary to monitor how recommendations that are accepted are implemented. Additionally, recommendations for the recovery of public funds must be monitored to ensure recovery takes place - success is not judged by intent but by action!