convener Kenneth Gibson said the emphasis on capital investment in the draft budget 2013-14 was "welcome" but the committee had found that greater clarity was needed.
Mr Gibson was opening the debate on the committee's
report on the draft budget
, on 20 December 2012.
The SNP MSP also called for greater analysis of the linkage between spending outcomes and priorities.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said the debate was an important part of the budget process and he would report back on the committee's report in January.
Mr Swinney said capital investment was central to the government's budget plans, adding there had been £200m additional funding to the housing sector this calendar year.
That was also behind the range of capital projects he announced on 19 December 2012 using £205m from the consequentials from the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.
The finance secretary said the budget had to be a balancing act between the necessity of protecting household incomes and also delivering the focus on the economy and growth.
Scottish Labour MSP Ken Macintosh adopted a festive theme calling the finance secretary "Ebeneezer Swinney" and saying this was the "budget of Christmas present" and "simply passed on Tory cuts".
Mr Macintosh said Mr Swinney had said, last year and this, this was a budget for jobs and growth but on "both criteria he has singularly failed."
Gavin Brown, the Scottish Conservative spokesperson on finance, pointed out that as a result of the Autumn Statement next years DEL budget was now increasing by £7.2m.