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EPOC wants public-sector reform update

Published:Friday | September 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Byles

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

THE Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) has asked the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation division in the Office of the Cabinet to provide it with details on the action plan it has prepared.

Richard Byles, the co-chairman of EPOC, told The Gleaner that the matter of public-sector reform is critical to Jamaica's development.

"It is a critical part of the financial-sector transformation. Public-sector transformation has to do with doing business, using taxes efficiently, and it is of high priority in the IMF (International Monetary Fund) agreement," Byles told The Gleaner.

Under the four-year extended fund facility with the IMF, Jamaica has committed to improving the efficiency, quality, and cost-effectiveness of the public sector.

The Government has set timetables for finalising the Public Sector Master Rationalisation Plan, and for implementing its adapted plan, which aims at, among other things, improving the financial oversight of public agencies and public bodies.

CALLS FOR MERGERS

The plan also calls for the introduction of shared corporate services, the reallocation, merger, abolition and divestment/privatisation of some entities, and the outsourcing of services.

"We are taking the matter of public-sector reform very seriously. We are going to try very hard to achieve the benchmarks in the agreement," Byles said.

He added that a lot of Jamaicans are looking forward to the transformation of the public sector.

Veniece Pottinger-Scott was earlier this year named director general of public-sector transformation and modernisation in the Office of the Cabinet. Attempts by The Gleaner to secure an interview with her have been futile.

Lincoln Robinson, press secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, told The Gleaner that Pottinger-Scott will not be available for an interview until Cabinet signs off on an action plan for public-sector transformation.

Jamaica has, so far, passed all quarterly tests administered by the IMF, even though the Fund's staff has expressed concerns with elements of the programme. In its last assessment in June, the staff commented that "public-sector reform needs to be stepped up without delay".

The Government has said it will develop an action plan for public-sector transformation by end of this month. The action plan is to cover the areas of sharing corporate services, the reallocation of resources, mergers, abolition and divestment/privatisation of departments and agencies, outsourcing of services, strengthening control systems and accountability (including in auditing and procurement), and aligning remuneration with job requirements.

daraine.luton.gleanerjm.com