20 May 2017 National Assembly deputy speakers Veroljub Arsic and Gordana Comic, and National Assembly Secretary General Svetislava Bulajic at the conference in Kyiv
Monday, 22 May 2017
National Assembly Delegation at International Parliamentary Conference in Kyiv
National Assembly delegation comprising National Assembly Deputy Speaker Veroljub Arsic, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gordana Comic and National Assembly Secretary General Svetislava Bulajic took part in the annual international parliamentary conference entitled “Building Citizen Trust through Openness and Engagement”, in Kyiv, Ukraine, 18-20 May 2017.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Veroljub Arsic presented the Public Finance Supervision Portal, essential software tool developed by the National Assembly with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), introduced by the National Assembly i.e. its Committee on Finance, State Budget and Control of Public Spending based on the Memorandum of Cooperation with the Ministry of Finance to boost the inclusion of citizens into the legislative process and establish two-way communication between the MPs and the citizens and civic association and enable them to monitor public spending. The initial idea behind the Public Finance Supervision Portal was to enable the MPs to monitor different systems (sources), pair them up and, based on data preparation and organization, receive functional reports and data cross references on the expenditure of the Serbian budget funds, considering that until the Portal they had no direct access to this data. The introduction of the Public Finance Supervision Portal puts the National Assembly in a small group of national parliaments which monitor public spending in a similar way.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gordana Comic shared the best practice examples and results achieved by the National Assembly’s informal parliamentary groups: Women’s Parliamentary Network and the Green Parliamentary Group. Based on the Aarhus Convention, the Environmental Protection Committee established the so-called “green chair” mechanism, meaning that the Committee invites NGO representatives to all of its sittings, both in and outside of the Parliament seat, according to topics discussed. Through the mechanism NGOs can take part in the Environmental Protection Committee’s work, take part in the discussion, offer suggestions and ask questions of the MPs, Committee members, as well as members of the executive attending said sittings. On the one hand, the public can hear the NGOs’ proposals, suggestion and criticisms, and on the other this type of interaction can be useful for the MPs as it gives them valuable information to assist their decision-making and drafting of amendments to bills being discussed.
National Assembly Secretary General Svetislava Bulajic presented the National Assembly’s activities (plenary and committee session broadcasts, sessions outside of the Parliament seat and other best practice examples making Serbia a leader in the region) and its approach to including the public and NGOs in its work by organizing public hearings and allowing them to ask questions using the National Assembly website, suggest topics for the public hearings and watch them broadcast. She went on to say that the parliamentary week, session simulations, mobile parliament, “green chair”, Quorum and Infobil bulletins, session broadcasts via the Internet, Public Finance Supervision Portal, etc. are just some of the National Assembly’s public outreach mechanisms and tools used to allow the citizens insight and direct participation in the Parliament’s work. It was this approach and its results that have helped improve practice and made the National Assembly a best practice example in the region and the world. In the coming period the National Assembly will focus on increasing the citizens’ participation in decision-making and developing a more positive attitude to the National Assembly and its work in line with the reform agenda and Action Plan for the parliament in the purview of the Serbian Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government. The National Assembly Support Service would continue to promote the informal parliamentary networks and their cooperation with the civil society and the public (GOPAC Serbia, Women’s Parliamentary Network, Green Parliamentary Group, Energy Policy Forum, etc.).
The well-received participation of the National Assembly delegation in the conference was supported by project “Strengthening the Oversight Role and Transparency of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Phase II”, conducted by the National Assembly and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).