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Story Highlights

  • The overarching goal of the newly appointed Financial Secretary, Dr. Wesley Hughes, is to make the Ministry of Finance the centre of excellence for financial and economic management of the country.
  • In his first extensive interview since becoming Financial Secretary, the former Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, which developed Jamaica's 2030 Vision, told JIS News that "for too long, the Ministry of Finance has been seen as primarily being responsible for printing the Estimates of Expenditure, getting the budget out on time and doing these routine things."
  • But the Ministry, he said, had to be concerned with broader developmental issues and had to ensure that Government's economic policies were consistent, coherent and co-ordinated.

The overarching goal of the newly appointed Financial Secretary, Dr. Wesley Hughes, is to make the Ministry of Finance the centre of excellence for financial and economic management of the country.

In his first extensive interview since becoming Financial Secretary, the former Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, which developed Jamaica’s 2030 Vision, told JIS News that “for too long, the Ministry of Finance has been seen as primarily being responsible for printing the Estimates of Expenditure, getting the budget out on time and doing these routine things.”

But the Ministry, he said, had to be concerned with broader developmental issues and had to ensure that Government’s economic policies were consistent, coherent and co-ordinated.

The Financial Secretary said the members of staff of the Ministry were eager to play a more critical role in economic management. He noted that the process of culture change had started before his move to the Ministry, but would be stepped-up under his leadership.

“People must look to the Ministry of Finance for leadership and strategic vision. Too many issues are now being discussed in isolation from the broader development framework and the overall objectives of the Government,” Dr. Hughes stated.

Citing an example, he said that various groups were constantly lobbying the Government for tax concessions and tax incentives, and that this called for a policy framework from which all these demands could be properly assessed.

“We have to ask questions like, ‘Is this tax concession or incentive consistent with Government policy and objectives? Is it fair and equitable? Will it achieve its desired results’?”

It is his view that tax incentives and concessions must be guided by technically sound advice, which should assess demands in light of the 2030 Vision, for example.

Dr. Hughes told JIS News that under his leadership, the Ministry of Finance would ensure that tax policy take into consideration, issues such as broad Government policy, global competitiveness, investment climate and cost-effectiveness, as these relate to the Government and the taxpayer.

He said some groups tended to take an ad hoc approach to tax incentives, but that it was his determination to ensure that tax policy cohere with broad national objectives.

“The staff here want to play this role in positioning the Ministry as the centre of excellence. They just want the leadership, and that leadership has to come from the Financial Secretary,” Dr. Hughes stated.

He announced also that one of his early tasks as Financial Secretary would be to develop a truly integrated financial management information system, which would strengthen decision-making at the Ministry.

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