Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Cabinet to get action plan to transform public sector

Published:Wednesday | September 21, 2016 | 9:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Audley Shaw

The long-awaited transformation of the public sector appears to be in its final strides, with the Government pledging to submit to Cabinet, by the end of this month, an action plan with specific timelines for implementation.

In a statement to Parliament yesterday, Finance and the Public Service Minister Audley Shaw said the plan would set out time-bound actions to improve efficiency in the public sector, through shared corporate services and the closure, merger and privatisation of some State-owned entities.

At the same time, the Government has approved a new organisational structure for the Accountant General's Department. According to Shaw, this is part of the administration's efforts to strengthen public financial management.

He said the Accountant General's Department, which leased a section of the former Oceana Hotel in Kingston, would start to occupy the premises on a phased basis beginning next week. He said a November 7 deadline has been set for the department to fully occupy the building.

In a wide-ranging presentation, Shaw also commented on plans by the Government to inject an additional US$40 million into the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP), which operates out of the National Works Agency. The Government had initially allocated some US$61 million in the budget for the programme.

Shaw said the decision by the administration to increase the sum to MIDP this financial year comes against the background of the underspending on capital programmes in the current budget by $7 billion. "So in other words, we are not going to stay flat-footed and allow the capital expenditure simply to return to the Consolidated Fund," he said.

Quizzed by South St Andrew member of parliament and former minister of transport, works and housing Dr Omar Davies about a proposed timeline for the tabling of the first supplementary estimates of expenditure which would reflect the increased sum, Shaw said he could not set a date for bringing the adjustment in government spending to Parliament.

Commenting on the National Housing Trust's (NHT) contribution of $11 billion to shore up the Government's fiscal programme, which ends in March 2017, Shaw said this would be the last time that the administration would raid the trust for fiscal support. He said going forward the Government would ensure that the NHT spend its surplus on housing solutions for Jamaicans.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com