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In a move to fast track the much needed investment programme and ease financial decision-making at all levels of the administration, the government will replace the archaic Financial Regulations (FR).

The reforms will also include laws and guidelines with regard to public private partnerships (PPPs), electronic procurement (e-procurement).

The FR was put in place by the British, with revisions in 1992 and 1996.

The Ministry of Finance says that of the series of immediate reforms on the cards, the Public Financial Management Bill will be introduced as the replacement for the current Financial Regulations Bill. The Department of Public Finance of the Ministry has prepared a draft Bill with the help of the World Bank.

The Financial Regulations which are binding on Ministries, Departments, statutory bodies, all State employees, certain government corporations which have not duly adopted their own comprehensive Financial Rules and Procedures and Divisional Secretariats, were last revised in 1991 prior to which it was in 1966.

Director General of the Department of Public Finance of the Ministry, P. Algama said that the law containing new additions would be in place within a few months time.
He said that the government planned to implement e-procurement systems while noting that a Cabinet paper had been prepared in this regard.

E-procurement systems will allow for e-procurement to take place on-line. Thus, while there would be increased transparency, accountability and ease of data collection, the chances of manipulation would also be less.

There is a PPP Division in the Ministry headed by Bradley Emerson. Whenever such an investment is proposed, the relevant line Ministry should consult the PPP Division and obtain advice.

Addressing the current lack of guidelines with regard to PPPs, Algama explained that Cabinet approval would be sought in early May for the guidelines, the formulation of which was done with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development, to be implemented.

“The proposals must be in line with national policy priorities which should be in accordance with public investment plans prepared by the Department of Planning. Although there are a number of such proposals by Ministries, not all go through as it depends on the strength of the project and whether for example it generates employment or new technology transfers,” Algama said.