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Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, has announced his intention to bring to Parliament, two pieces of legislation, which will provide for greater fiscal responsibility within the public service.
The legislation, which will be tabled in Parliament on February 2, are amendments to the Financial Administration and Audit (FAA) Act and the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act.
“The FAA Act is going to be amended to ensure that we establish a fiscal responsibility framework,” the Minister informed in the House of Representatives on January 26.
The proposed changes, he explained, seek to correct shortcomings identified in the existing fiscal policy and administrative systems relating in particular to the control of expenditure, reporting of financial performance, accountability, transparency and the oversight of macroeconomic fiscal policies and programmes.
The amendments will impose a duty on the Minister of Finance to table in Parliament each year, a fiscal policy paper, a fiscal responsibility statement and a fiscal management strategy. It will also require the Auditor General to review the fiscal policy paper and report to Parliament thereon and authorise the Minister of Finance to withdraw, suspend or impose conditions on any expenditure authorised under a warrant, if the exigencies of the financial situation warrant it.
The Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act, in the meantime, will seek to make public bodies more accountable to Parliament by, among other things, prohibiting them from entering into negotiations to borrow money, by way of bonds, without the prior approval of the Minister.
It will also require that corporate plans and modifications of these are presented to the Minister in charge for his endorsement and for it to be laid before both Houses of Parliament for approval. The amended Act will also require that the estimates of expenditure for each public body and a summary of their corporate plan be laid before the House before the end of each financial year.
“These represents material commitment to fiscal responsibility and they are going to be honoured,” Mr. Shaw stated.