Government Receives Funds for Public Sector Efficiency Programme

The Government of Jamaica has secured $3.39 billion (US$31.65 million) in multi-lateral loan and grant funding support to implement Jamaica’s Public Sector Efficiency Programme.

The funds are being provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); the Government of the People’s Republic of China; and the European Union (EU).

The IDB is providing US$14 million; China – US$11 million, under its Co-financing Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean; and the EU – €5 million/US$6.6 million.

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips; China’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Dong Xiaojun; IDB Country Representative in Jamaica, Therese Turner-Jones; and Head of Cooperation for the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Jesús Orús Báguena, signed agreements for the funds, during a brief ceremony on Tuesday, February 18, at the Ministry’s National Heroes Circle offices in Kingston.

Dr. Phillips said that the loans and grant will finance public sector efficiency improvements, as part of a programme to be implemented over the next five years.

This undertaking, he outlined, will include design and implementation of an information technology-based human resource management system across all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs); and provision of an integrated human resource management system that will streamline background information on public sector employees.

“We are also providing support for particular institutions that will facilitate our ease of doing business…to ensure that…potential bottlenecks (are) removed, for people who want to establish new businesses. We are also going to be directing resources to the Companies Office of Jamaica…as part of this overall system,” the Minister informed.

Dr. Phillips advised that the EU’s provision will serve to “bolster” public financial management reform, “an area in which they already provide considerable support.”

“Their resources will be directed at strengthening the Auditor General’s Department and, most importantly, in our view, given our concern to establish greater levels of oversight, our concern, now, with the fiscal rules,…strengthening of the capacities of the Parliament (which) is of particular importance to us,” the Minister stated.

The allocation from the EU, he said, reflects the organisation’s “continuing support and interest in public financial management (in Jamaica),”  noting that it will assist in the design and establishment of a technical office for fiscal and budget analysis; and provide training for Members of Parliament in macro fiscal management.

Dr. Phillips informed that the Public Sector Efficiency Programme will be managed by the Office of the Cabinet, through the Public Sector Modernization Division, and will involve close cooperation and collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and other Ministries engaged in enhancing public financial and human resource management across MDAs.

In his remarks, Ambassador Dong, said he is “very happy” to see that Jamaica has become a beneficiary country of the China Co-financing Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean, which was established in January 2013 to support public and private sector projects promoting sustainable economic growth in the region.

He informed that already, the Fund has financed several successful regional projects, including a private sector wind farm initiative in Uruguay, and public undertakings, such as Suriname’s financial sector project.

“I am confident that our cooperation in various fields will better benefit our people,” Ambassador Dong added.

Mr. Báguena, for his part, described the signing as a “good illustration of donor coordination.”  He said public financial management “is an area which we (EU) are particularly keen to support”, and hence sought the IDB’s support and expertise in this area.

He advised that the EU will be providing the Ministry with an additional €8 million in direct budgetary support for public financial management reform.

Mrs. Turner-Jones said he IDB’s provision for the government’s programme represents an “important step” in improving public sector efficiency and facilitating and improving an enabling environment for Jamaica’s private sector to thrive.

“A thriving private sector really depends on a thriving public sector. We know that in other countries around the world where this has been implemented, there have been outstanding improvements in efficiency, and we look forward to Jamaica being able to benefit in a similar fashion,” she said.

By Douglas McIntosh