What is public debt?

Public debt can be quantified as the external obligations of the government and public sector. More than just a number, public debt is a complex issue with many political and economic implications.

Why is public debt oversight important?

When countries have high levels of public debt, their ability to fund important social and infrastructure programs is limited by the high cost of servicing debt. When public debt reaches unsustainable levels, governments can be forced into austerity programs, which cut services and supports across society (often disproportionately impacting women and girls). Oversight of public debt is important to ensure that the total debt levels and the composition of the debt portfolio are kept in check.

What is parliament’s role in public debt oversight?

Parliament has two important roles to play in relation to public debt. The first role is parliament’s legislative role, which includes passing laws related to debt and debt management, and the second role is parliament’s oversight role, which involves holding the government to account through the entire budget cycle (formulation, approval, execution, audit/oversight). Parliamentarians can call on the government to improve debt transparency, debate debt-related matters, and invite experts to address matters related to debt and debt management through parliamentary committee hearings.

What does
Nexus PFM Consulting offer?

Nexus PFM Consulting can assess the role of your Parliament or sub-national legislature in fulfilling its legislative and oversight roles of public debt and public debt management throughout the budget cycle and provide strategic recommendations on how to enhance these roles. Additionally, such assessments include an appraisal of debt transparency (i.e. the availability, completeness and timeliness of public debt statistics and debt management documents) as well as the capacity of the executive branch to manage public debt. 

Nexus PFM can also provide training to parliamentarians and staff on how to strengthen parliament’s legal and oversight roles related to public debt.

Nexus PFM works in partnership with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) in countries where WFD is active.

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