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Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke (right), and former Minister without Portfolio in the Finance Ministry and newly appointed Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams (centre), in discussion with World Bank Country Manager for Jamaica, Galina Sotirova, during a recent Public Sector Transformation Programme update, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
Photo: Adrian Walker

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica’s international development partners have recommitted their support for the Public Sector Transformation Programme.
  • This is the undertaking given by representatives of two of the entities – Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Manager, Therese Turner Jones, and World Bank Country Manager for Jamaica, Galina Sotirova, who have lauded the Administration for taking steps to further advance the civil service’s transformation.
  • Both officials reaffirmed their organisations’ support during a recent programme update provided by Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke.

Jamaica’s international development partners have recommitted their support for the Public Sector Transformation Programme.

This is the undertaking given by representatives of two of the entities – Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Manager, Therese Turner Jones, and World Bank Country Manager for Jamaica, Galina Sotirova, who have lauded the Administration for taking steps to further advance the civil service’s transformation.

Both officials reaffirmed their organisations’ support during a recent programme update provided by Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke.

Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, gives an update on the Public Sector Transformation Programme, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston recently.

 

Mrs. Turner Jones, who noted that the engagement has been “ongoing for many years”, acknowledged that “progress is being made”.

“If you look at how Jamaica has improved in the ‘Doing Business’ indicators, for example on opening a business… moving up seven points on that… the matrix [has put] Jamaica in the top 10 in the world,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Turner Jones suggested that public-service delivery in Jamaica can be improved by “moving much quicker to a digital economy and putting everything on a digital platform”.

“This means that all parts of the Jamaican Government [would be] operating on one platform,” she added.

The IDB executive argued that a key principle of this engagement would see persons only needing to give their data once.

“So, if you go to the tax office, they would know your name because you have a digital signature… [and once] you have an ID card… if you need to connect to a health service, you don’t have to give that [personal] information twice,” she explained.

The digital platform concept is consistent with the Public Sector Efficiency and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) component of the transformation programme.

This aspect supports the roll-out of GovNet to enable connectivity among ministries, starting in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA).

Additionally, it addresses efficiency enhancements in three ministries and in ICT support areas, such as connectivity in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the first phase.

Noting that Jamaica is the first Caribbean State to announce plans to transition to a digital economy, Mrs. Turner Jones argued that “this is where we need to be”.

She noted that much of the elements to this end “are already in place”, and in this regard, “if we can think of this as a sprint… we can really move this country in a very different direction”.

“Jamaica has started on a journey that’s going to take, maybe, a long time. But it doesn’t have to. We can shorten the time it’s taking for all this to happen. We [IDB] stand ready to help in any way possible and look forward to an agenda that can truly revolutionise the way Jamaica’s public service interacts with its citizens to improve lives,” Mrs. Turner Jones said.

Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) Director General, Dr. Wayne Henry (left), and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Manager, Therese Turner Jones (centre), in conversation with World Bank Country Manager for Jamaica, Galina Sotirova, during a recent Public Sector Transformation Programme update, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

 

For her part, Mrs. Sotirova said an effective, efficient and appropriately sized public sector is imperative in underpinning several key drivers of growth identified in the Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan.

These, she indicated, are a stable macroeconomy; a strong enabling business environment; internationally competitive industries; energy security; modern technology; and a strong economic infrastructure.

Against this background, Mrs. Sotirova said an efficient public sector is important to not only generate cost savings, but “not to take valuable resources from productive and capital investments that are needed in the economy”, and ensure that it is “effective in the delivery of its mandate and services”.

The World Bank Country Head emphasised that a reconfigured public sector is also key to promoting productive investments and efficient market exchanges requiring the maintenance of a modern legal and institutional framework; providing the requisite goods and services that the market cannot supply efficiently, such as infrastructure, to facilitate economic progress; research and regulations; and fostering economic opportunities and providing safety nets for the society’s disadvantaged through social programmes.

“The performance of these functions is conditional upon the quality of the institutions to deliver their mandates. With the support of the International Development Partners… Jamaica has been working very hard in the last few years to upgrade outdated systems, to bring Jamaica’s legal framework into alignment with international good standards, to divest unproductive assets and introduce new ways to deliver services. Such reforms have resulted in critical advances,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Sotirova said Jamaica’s score, when measured against the global governance indicators, “is not that bad”, noting that the country “scores higher than the Latin American and Caribbean average… which is good”.

She assured that “the World Bank stands ready to continue to support Jamaica through our financial, technical assistance and advisory services”.

The Public Sector Transformation Programme is in keeping with the Government’s ongoing commitment to enhance the quality of public services and efficiency in public expenditure.

The engagement prioritises Vision 2030 Jamaica through deliberate and strategic focus on public-sector modernisation.

Vision 2030 Jamaica seeks to reposition the island to attain developed country status within 11 years and, in the process, make it the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

The Programme, being spearheaded by the Transformation Implementation Unit, is steeped in five pillars.

These are (a) the introduction of shared corporate services; (b) human resource management; (c) rationalisation of public bodies; (d) public-sector efficiency and ICT; and (e) wage bill management.

During the update, the Finance Minister conveyed the Administration’s gratitude to the IDB and World Bank for supporting the Programme, which he said has “enabled us to get to where we are”.

“The vision of our Transformation Programme is for a modern Public Service that is fair, that values people, and that consistently delivers high-quality service,” Dr. Clarke added.