Govt focusing on strengthening public financial administration in 2020-2021

Govt focusing on strengthening public financial administration in 2020-2021

Observer business writer

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

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The Government will this fiscal year continue to focus on strengthening public financial administration as it pushes Jamaica towards economic independence, which is no longer a dream but is becoming a reality.

That's the charge given by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen as he delivered the 2020-2021 Throne Speech in Gordon House yesterday to open the new parliamentary year. Sir Patrick outlined the raft of initiatives that will be pursued this fiscal year in the areas of business and finance.

The continued focus on public financial administration strengthening comes in wake of a series of scandals that engulfed the Andrew Holness-led Administration last year, including Ministry of Education, Caribbean Maritime University, and the now-defunct National Energy Solutions Limited (NEOSOL). As part of strengthening public finance administration, Sir Patrick disclosed that Medium Term Results-Based Budgeting has been introduced in all ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs).

In addition, the Regulations for the Nomination, Selection and Appointment of Boards in support of transparency were tabled in the Houses of Parliament and affirmed by the House of Representatives in December 2019. He specially mentioned one MDA, Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), which has enhanced its business processes, technology, and physical infrastructure to effect improvements in the quality and delivery of services.

TAJ is far advanced its ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System certification, a first for tax administrations across the Caribbean. The governor general also spoke about the modernisation of the Bank of Jamaica, which is being advanced through a Bill to amend the Bank of Jamaica Act adding that the Government will continue its focus on Customs modernisation by advancing the Customs Act.

He pointed out that the Microcredit Bill, which was tabled during the year, will be amended this fiscal year, taking into account feedback from consultation with the sector. Building on the work done in 2019, Sir Patrick told Parliament that the Government will be pushing forward with a number of critical pieces of legislation that will improve Jamaica's economy.

These in include a Bill to establish an Independent Fiscal Council, which will strengthen Jamaica's fiscal responsibility regime, and the Pension Superannuation Fund and Retirement Schemes Amendment Bill, which is the second phase of private pension reform. This piece of legislation will address issues with portability, vesting, and participation in multiple schemes, among other reforms.

Also on the list are amendments to the Financial Services Commission Act, which will facilitate consolidated supervision for non-deposit taking groups. Sir Patrick had high praises for Jamaica's stock market, which is among the best- performing in the world, , as well as improvements in Jamaica's currency ratings, in which Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch have all recently upgraded the Government of Jamaica's long-term foreign and local currency ratings to their highest levels in decades.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Nigel Clarke will present the formal budget on behalf of the Government in March.

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