8. Boys` Toys to do Men's Jobs?
For parliamentary committees to monitor outputs effectively experience shows that the system must address the capacity needs, first at the level of the committee. Under the Financial Management, Transparency and Accountability Project (FIMTAP) the Parliament of Malawi will access funds to enable it to support work plans of two Parliamentary committees, namely Public accounts Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee. The capacity interventions must address leadership of parliamentary committees and training of the members of the committees. A basic level of understanding of economic parameters is necessary for effectiveness in poverty reduction. Skills to access information are also necessary in the fast moving world of Internet. Minimum working facilities and an environment with capacity to follow up on issues is also critical. It is a matter of regret that the Malawi programme will not be operative this year in readiness for completion point of the PRSP.
The Malawi experience also reveals that for the committees to succeed, well-motivated and trained clerks and research staff must service committees. Consulting services are expensive. Therefore, the sustainability of the Committees` efforts lies in the recruitment of highly professional staff, hopefully those who will sympathise with the Committees zeal and mission. All too often, A committee's enthusiasm can founder because of lack of support from Parliament staff. Monitoring tasks require agility and versatility. There are a lot of basic but regular contacts with busy public officers and others within and outside, and with civil society and donor agencies. In the context of similar endeavours the Deputy Speaker of Botswana warned that we should never attempt to do men's jobs using boys' toys.