Nairobi, Kenya – The Parliamentary Forum, organised by the Kenyan Parliament, AWEPA and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) alongside the Second High Level Meeting (HLM2) of the Global Partnership for Effective Development (GPEDC), kicked off Tuesday in Nairobi, Kenya with opening speeches by the President of the Kenyan Senate, Hon. Ekwee D. Ethuro, Mr. Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Minister of State Ms. Miet Smet, AWEPA President.
Attended by over 130 participants, mainly members of parliament, the Forum explored a range of issues, related to development financing and the role of parliaments. In her opening address, Ms. Smet emphasised the fact that parliaments and political parties receive only 0.1% of OECD DAC country aid, according to 2013 estimates. She questioned how we can expect to achieve the SDG goals, especially in low income African countries, when parliaments are too often sidelined by donors and global actors alike.
Topical sessions included a briefing on the GPEDC and how development assistance can be strengthened through oversight, where panellist and Head of AWEPA’s Irish Section, Hon. Maureen O’Sullivan, called for a review of the nature of partnership under the GPEDC. Hon. Mwalimu Simfukwe, Member of Parliament, Zambia, supported by AWEPA’s Budgetary Oversight and Support programme gave examples from the Zambia.
Discussion on domestic resource mobilisation, taxation and illicit financial flows drew from global and UK studies and experiences from Liberia and other countries. Oxfam International Executive Director, Ms. Winnie Byanyima, a panellist, urged members to tackle the problem of illicit financial flows, tax havens and tax evasion as a human rights issue, pointing out that the selfish actions of corporations and individuals had the greatest impact on the poorest, mainly women and girls. According to Byanyima, a former Ugandan parliamentarian who served eleven years, the hundreds of millions of dollars lost to tax havens is three times more than aid received.
Lord David Chidgey, Head of AWEPA’s UK Section also presented in the panel discussion on DRM while Hon. Jefferson Kanmoh, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Member of Parliament from Liberia provided an insight into the experience of DRM in Liberia.
The panel on private public partnerships (PPPs) drew heated debate with many parliamentarians saying this was a topic rarely discussed in parliament. The discussion raised issues such as the nature of PPP contracts, what actions parliaments can take to ensure greater transparency and whether domestic companies should have to compete for PPP contracts on the same terms as international corporations. Hon. Petra Bayr, Head of AWEPA’s Austria Section, was among panelists for this session.