World Bank underwrites public-sector budget reform
Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
In a bid to address the challenge of what it describes as uncoordinated spending by different ministries, agencies and public entities in Jamaica, the World Bank has rolled out a new public investment and training progamme aimed at reducing fragmentation in budgeting and improving spending.
The bank announced approval of a US$37-million (J$4.14-billion) project for the purpose.
It is financed by an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan of US$35 million, with maturity in 29 years and a five-year grace period. It also includes a US$2.64-million grant from the Department for International Development (DFID).
Kathy Lalazarian, senior public sector specialist with the World Bank, told the Financial Gleaner that the latest loan granted in support of public-sector transformation in Jamaica will cover the cost of training for a public investment management system.
This is inclusive, she said, of overall budgeting skills within ministries. Some US$12.8 million will be spent on strengthening a Public Investment Management System (PIMS), and US$3.73 million on strengthening the budget preparation process and results-based budgeting, the World Bank's project approval document indicates.
The project document outlines spending of US$9.17 million on "adaptive public-sector approaches", US$2.8 million on strengthening property tax compliance and administration, US$8.43 million on fostering industrial growth and trade facilitation and US$70,000 on project management.
The project rationale in the World Bank's approval document cites, among other things, the local "fragmentation of public spending, particularly public investments, [which] reduces its macroeconomic impact. Both law and practice contribute to the current fragmentation and spending is not adequately linked to policy priorities, while the planning and management of public investments is not addressed in legislation," it said.
IT PLATFORM DEVELOPMENT
The planned public investment system is designed to include the development of an information technology platform, which will provide information on public investment across the public-investment cycle.
It will also address design and implementation of a public investment management training programme for public-sector employees through the design of the public investment management training modules, training on public investment preparation, training for project management, and training on public investment monitoring.
There is the additional objective of designing and implementing a public investment management training programme for public-sector employees.
The loan will also cover strengthening of the Bureau of Standards to provide improved services to the trading community.
According to Lazarian, the project "focuses on achieving maximum efficiency in the public sector. For example, the project has many activities that will strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Finance and Planning and other selected institutions through intensive training programmes. In addition, it will focus on improving the human capital and analytical capacity of the public sector for an efficient public investment management system."
According to the project approval document, the general project has six components divided into two main thematic areas - "reinforcing fiscal discipline and revenue enhancement, and public-sector institutional strengthening to remove barriers that impede trade facilitation".