Gov’t Looking to Fast-Track Public-Sector Transformation

Photo: Michael Sloley Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke (at podium), addresses the opening ceremony for the 10th Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ)/Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Labour Market Forum, which was held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday (April 11) under the theme ‘Enabling Growth and Development: Unlocking the Potential of the Global Shared Services Sector’. Listening keenly (from left) are PIOJ Director General, Dr. Wayne Henry; and PIOJ Community Development Specialist, Antoinette Richards.

Story Highlights

  • Newly appointed Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the Government will be revisiting the public sector transformation programme with a view to accelerating its implementation.
  • “We plan to review the agenda for the rationalisation of public bodies over the next four to six weeks and, in that time, will conclude the necessary consultations with our union partners, ministries, (and other) stakeholders towards the establishment of an accelerated timetable,” he said.
  • “We intend to start consultations with our partners in the union movement immediately, and once what we have come up with is approved by Cabinet, we are going to set these out and put the necessary resources behind the effort… and we will eventually integrate this timetable within our formal programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he said.

Newly appointed Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the Government will be revisiting the public sector transformation programme with a view to accelerating its implementation.

“We plan to review the agenda for the rationalisation of public bodies over the next four to six weeks and, in that time, will conclude the necessary consultations with our union partners, ministries, (and other) stakeholders towards the establishment of an accelerated timetable,” he said.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony for the 10th Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ)/Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Labour Market Forum at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday (April 11).

Dr. Clarke, who was attending his first speaking engagement since being appointed late last month, said the timetable will take into consideration opportunities for divestment of public entities that have a commercial focus but are not necessary for Government to carry out their functions, the merging of entities performing similar functions in order to achieve effective service delivery, and the reintegration of public bodies into their parent ministries.

“We intend to start consultations with our partners in the union movement immediately, and once what we have come up with is approved by Cabinet, we are going to set these out and put the necessary resources behind the effort… and we will eventually integrate this timetable within our formal programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he said.

Dr. Clarke pointed out that the Government will not be waiting until the next IMF review under the existing Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement (PSBA), slated within the next six months, to embark on the programmed engagements, emphasising that “we cannot wait that long”.

“Consistent with the approach that is required in a post-IMF era, we are going to do what needs to be done to secure our economic independence without prodding from anyone,” he added.

“To secure our economic independence and create the space to address emerging priorities, we need to greatly accelerate the pace of public body rationalization. In order to be assured that the Jamaican Government can innovate to provide the services required in the future, we must ensure that we create space by efficient allocation (of resources). Our economic independence tomorrow is best assured by efficient allocation today,” the Minister noted further.

Dr. Clarke said the country’s 190 public bodies are simply unmanageable for a country of our size and resources.

“The sheer number compromises the ability for effective parliamentary oversight, reflection and review that are required for good governance. Furthermore, to the extent that with thought and creativity we could do with fewer public bodies, it means that we are absorbing resources in time and money that could be deployed elsewhere, making our economy more vibrant and more efficient,” the Minister argued.

Noting that the IMF, in its first PSBA review, pointed out that over 150 public bodies have been established since the 1950s, he contended that that is “simply not sustainable”.

“There was, we can be sure, very good reason for the creation of all of these (entities) at those points in time. (But) the challenge is that as time passes, technologies, opportunities, threats and priorities change (and) new laws are needed and new institutions are often required. But it is not economically viable to continuously add public bodies without the certain means to sustainably fund them. That compromises our economic independence,” the Minister added.

The public sector rationalisation programme, over the last two years, has seen the completion of two divestments involving Kingston Container Terminal and Caymanas Track Limited.

The programme has also effected a four-way merger involving HEART Trust/NTA, Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, National Youth Service and the Apprenticeship Board, and another involving the Office of the Children’s Registry and Child Development Agency.

The labour market forum was held under the theme ‘Enabling Growth and Development: Unlocking the Potential of the Global Shared Services Sector’.

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