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Story Highlights

  • The country is undergoing a comprehensive Public Financial Management (PFM) reform, aimed at modernising its public financial management and administrative systems.
  • This should result in a more efficient and effective use of funds to deliver services to the public.
  • Director General of the Public Financial Management Secretariat in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Diane McIntosh, tells JIS News that over the decades, Jamaica’s PFM system has not delivered optimally on key goals, and therefore a reform became necessary.

The country is undergoing a comprehensive Public Financial Management (PFM) reform, aimed at modernising its public financial management and administrative systems.

This should result in a more efficient and effective use of funds to deliver services to the public.

Director General of the Public Financial Management Secretariat in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Diane McIntosh, tells JIS News that over the decades, Jamaica’s PFM system has not delivered optimally on key goals, and therefore a reform became necessary.

“It is widely accepted that a proper working PFM system should enable the strategic allocation of resources, fiscal discipline and efficient and effective delivery of public services,” she says.

She points out that the ongoing reform is taking place on the recommendations from recent Auditor General’s reports that identified recurring breaches and weaknesses; less than favourable fiscal discipline scores from an international performance assessment, as well as key policy reforms outlined in Jamaica’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Ms. McIntosh explains that with the ongoing PFM transformation, the Finance Ministry is working to achieve a credible fiscal strategy and budget; accuracy and comprehensiveness in reporting; and transparency and accountability, which should lead to high performance and a sustainable macro-economic framework.

To achieve this, she says a strategic direction was taken to target areas where weaknesses were recognized.

One such area is the management of Government’s cash resources, which has led  to the transitioning of the Accountant General’s Department into a Central Treasury management system.

“So, when we have a treasury single account at the Bank of Jamaica, then you’re more able to, in a more orderly way, control your debt management operations,” Ms. McIntosh notes.

The Director General cites implementation of  new ICT systems at Jamaica Customs Agency and Tax Administration Jamaica as well as the roll-out of the Government’s Electronic Procurement System as other aspects of transformation that have taken place.

In the meantime, Director of Strategic Organisational Development at the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Trudy-Ann James-Linton, tells JIS News that essentially, the Ministry’s transformation programme is geared at creating a Centre of Excellence that delivers sound fiscal policy and facilitates economic growth.

Mrs. James-Linton explains that transformation for the Ministry of Finance and Planning means, “the creation of a learning organization that attracts and retains talent; a customer service and a results-oriented Ministry, placing focus on business processes that are efficient and supported by technology; and an organizational structure that has systems that are aligned to achieve Vision 2030.”

She says that in addition to working to effect complete modernization of the Accountant General’s Department, the Ministry will also seek to implement budget management systems, results based budgeting, behaviour change and greater synergy with all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

This year the Government implemented new fiscal rules, which saw the implementation of a new budget cycle where the 2015/16 Estimates of Expenditure were debated and passed prior to the start of the new fiscal year; and recently began the process of medium term results based budgeting.

Mrs. James-Linton says a critical success factor of the transformation programme will be how the employees of the Ministry respond to the change. As such, the Ministry has employed behavioural economics as part of its change management strategy.

“This will seek to build the capacity of the staff to embrace, participate in, implement and own the changes that are required to deliver the Ministry’s mandate and ensure that we have sustainable change moving forward,” she tells JIS News.

The Ministry of Finance and Planning intends to have this PFM transformation framework replicated across all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

“Good PFM systems are not only central to the Ministry of Finance, it is also central to all Ministries and so that’s where we are taking the reform. So, what we’re doing in the Ministry of Finance and Planning is establishing a framework, so we want to be able to effect change right across the other Ministries,” the Director says.

Mrs. James-Linton further notes that this process should be completed in about 22 months and replicated, as part of the Government’s Public Sector Transformation Programme.