KINGSTON — Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, says that Government has embarked on a new frontier of fiscal responsibility and transparency, with legislation and guidelines before Parliament to ensure prudence in financial management and hold leadership accountable.
“We have put forth in Parliament, fiscal responsibility legislation (and) we have a revised procurement handbook that has gone through a rigorous process of review,” he informed at a fiduciary training workshop dinner last evening (May 17) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.
“We have, for the first time, put in Parliament a fiscal policy paper that outlines the macroeconomic programme, outlines the medium-term economic programme, and is signed by the Minister of Finance and it says that we are committed to prudent management practices and if we don’t do it…then I subject myself to impeachment,” he continued.
Mr. Shaw said that resulting from these efforts the Government has been able to stabilise the economy. “We now have adequate foreign exchange in the Net International Reserves (NIR), we have adequate gross foreign exchange reserves, our exchange rate has been revaluing (by almost five per cent over the last year), interest rates are trending down and inflation is stable (even though) it has to be lower,” he pointed out.
He stated that the foundation is being laid for lower interest rates and continuing stability in the exchange rate, and controlled Government spending within the deficit targets, in order to make the economy more competitive.
The four-day workshop, organised by the World Bank, is targeted at persons working on Bank-funded initiatives and projects in the region.
The more than 70 participants drawn from Jamaica, Guyana, Grenada, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, and the Caribbean Community Centre for Climate Change, among others, are attending the event.
World Bank Representative to Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, Giorgio Valentini, informed that the workshop focuses on a range of topics such as financial management requirements; procurement, audit and oversight of Bank-financed projects; selection and employment of consultants; and issues and challenges in disbursement.
He said the training exercise was “developed to address both the common areas and the specific differences between countries, and the Bank hopes that besides hearing from us on financial management and procurement, participants from partner organisations will also be hearing from each other, networking and sharing experiences and best practices."
Among the objectives are to help participants and their organisations to effectively manage fiduciary risks; to ensure that project funds are used as intended; build sustainable capacity, among other things.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter