An­tigua and Bar­buda Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary praises ECLAC train­ing of public fi­nance man­agers

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, please con­tact Alexan­der Voc­cia at alexan­der.voc­ or Denise Bal­go­bin at denise. bal­go­ Tele­phone: (868) 224-8067/224-8075.

Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Health in An­tigua and Bar­buda, Mr. Wal­ter Christopher, em­pha­sized the value and po­ten­tial of the tech­niques im­parted to bol­ster the ef­fi­ciency of the bud­get­ing ex­er­cise. He was at­tend­ing the high level brief­ing sem­i­nar fol­low­ing a week­long train­ing work­shop hosted by the ECLAC sub-re­gional head­quar­ters for the Caribbean.

Twenty se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tives from An­tigua and Bar­buda’s Min­istries of Fi­nance and Cor­po­rate Gov­er­nance, Health and the En­vi­ron­ment, Ed­u­ca­tion, Agri­cul­ture, and So­cial Trans­for­ma­tion ac­tively par­tic­i­pated in a train­ing work­shop that was held at the An­tigua and Bar­buda Hos­pi­tal­ity Train­ing In­sti­tute, from 18-22 July 2016. The ob­jec­tive of the work­shop was to build the ca­pac­ity of public of­fi­cials to con­duct Public Ex­pen­di­ture Re­views (PERs) with ap­pro­pri­ate ap­pli­ca­tions for their re­spec­tive sec­tors. The ini­tia­tive com­ple­mented the re­cently launched ECLAC debt for cli­mate adap­ta­tion swaps pro­posal which is designed to pro­mote fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity and build the fis­cal re­silience of the Caribbean.

PERs are in­tended to align ex­pen­di­tures with gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties. They are also in­tended to pro­vide sav­ings, ei­ther from ex­pen­di­ture re­al­lo­ca­tion or by re­duc­ing un­pro­duc­tive ex­pen­di­tures. In ad­di­tion they im­prove fis­cal man­age­ment and can pro­vide fis­cal space es­pe­cially when a coun­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing high debt lev­els.

The work­shop came at a very timely junc­tion in the Gov­ern­ment’s work­plan, as An­tigua and Bar­buda is just about to pub­licly launch its Medium Term De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy.

“The in­tro­duc­tion of the con­cept of Public Ex­pen­di­ture Re­views will fur­ther equip se­nior civil ser­vants with the tools nec­es­sary to as­sess the econ­omy, ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness of their pro­grams”, noted Cordella We­ston, Se­nior Bud­get An­a­lyst in Min­istry of Fi­nance and Cor­po­rate Gov­er­nance. In this re­gard, We­ston also em­pha­sized that “gain­ing knowl­edge in this area will en­able the gov­ern­ment’s tech­ni­cians, such as Bud­get An­a­lysts to mon­i­tor and mea­sure ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency in the use of scarce resources, and to de­ter­mine whether ex­pended funds are be­ing used ap­pro­pri­ately to meet the strate­gic goals and pol­icy set out by gov­ern­ment”.

Also present dur­ing the high level brief­ing was, ECLAC Caribbean’s Deputy Di­rec­tor, Dr. Dil­lon Al­leyne, who of­fered valu­able per­spec­tive on the way this train­ing fa­cil­i­tates ECLAC’s on­go­ing project en­ti­tled “Strength­en­ing the tech­ni­cal ca­pac­ity of public fi­nance of­fi­cials in se­lect Caribbean SIDS”. Other Caribbean coun­tries to ben­e­fit from sim­i­lar train­ing work­shops are Belize, Saint Kitts and Ne­vis and Bar­ba­dos.

Em­i­nent re­gional economist Pro­fes­sor Vanus James fa­cil­i­tated the train­ing, and highlighted the unique­ness of the project’s method­ol­ogy. He ex­plained that ECLAC’s ap­proach un­der­scored its com­mit­ment to build­ing the ca­pac­ity of the coun­try, by not only pro­vid­ing par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries with train­ing, but by also mak­ing avail­able spe­cific “hand-hold­ing” tech­ni­cal sup­port to en­sure that the tech­niques learned are fully un­der­stood and suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented for the ben­e­fit of the re­spec­tive Min­istries.

On com­ple­tion of the na­tional work­shops, a re­gional train­ing mod­ule in fore­cast­ing and fis­cal trans­parency will be held in Port of Spain for one week. The fi­nal phase of the project will in­clude fol­low up tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance for the par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries to sup­port their im­ple­men­ta­tion of the PER tech­niques.

Mrs. Rosa Geen­away, Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary of Health, and An­tigua and Bar­buda, hand­ing out the train­ing cer­tifi­cates to par­tic­i­pants.

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