By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE country's sluggish economy is still struggling to make a turnaround from the Financial Crisis of 2008, according to officials at a recent public forum.
Tonya Adderley, Project Manager of the PFM/PMR explained that growth has been sluggish and unemployment continues to be high, and within this context, the country has seen its borrowing to sustain its deficit spending increase significantly.
The Public Financial Management and Performance Monitoring Reform (PFM/PMR) Project Unit within the Ministry of Finance is mandated to improve the government's capacity to manage and allocate resources and as such will have a tangible effect not just on the public service but also on the lives of every Bahamian.
To better explain the impact of the project, the PFM/PMR Project Unit hosted a Public Forum at The University of The Bahamas in the Performing Arts Centre.
Ms Adderley said, "Our escalating debt is a great threat to our fiscal future. Governments can approach this crisis in two ways: by increasing revenue through taxation or by reducing expenditure."
The PFM/PMR Project is the Government's apparatus for expenditure side of the deficit equation.
This is a five-year $33 million effort financed through a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.
Ms. Adderley explained the PFM/PMR will increase the Government's capacity to manage and allocate resources in a prudent manner that ensures value for money for the Bahamian people. The PFM/PMP Project will establish mechanisms to improve and effectively implement government policies through programmes and projects.
"It will increase accountability of managers with respect to their contribution to the performance goals of the country. It will also modernize several of the information technology systems within the public sector, creating new job requirements and streamlining functions within Government."
Each of the persons responsible for the various components within the project gave a brief overview of their areas during the forum.
Component one of the project involves Performance Monitoring, which will create centralized planning infrastructure to monitor priority projects and programmes of the government.
This approach will increase cross-agency coordination, reduce duplication of effort and curb wasteful spending by ensuring that priority projects receive the human and financial resources required for success.
Component two of the project National Statistics meets the demand for high quality, timely relevant data from government, private sector, academia and civil society by creating a national statistical system.
It will facilitate the integration of research base reporting and evidence based practice into private and public decision making.
Component three of the project is Public Financial Management, which will completely overhaul the nation's public financial system to ensure that matters related to the public purse are handled efficiently and effectively. It will close the gaps in systems through business process re-engineering and strong legislative actions.
Ultimately, due to public financial reform and the implementation of project deliverables, The Bahamas should improve its standing globally through the improvement of specific performance indicators represented by our baseline.
Lastly, component four, Public Procurement, will commence the modernization of a national procurement system in line with international best practices.
National Public Procurement will become more transparent, inclusive and competitive to ensure that effective contracts provide the best value for money for the Bahamian people.
Ms. Adderley said the project is not a public relations exercise, or simply purchasing new technology.
"It is a transformational change for the public sector. The project structure is uncommon in the public sector in that it has a steering committee comprising of department heads from key government agencies across the service guiding and supporting the project implementation unit."
"It has a devoted team of professionals whose sole focus is to ensure that deliverables and timelines are met within scope and costs. Inclusion and transparency are part of the core values of the PFM/PMR Project. It impacts not only the public sector -- business, academia and civil society are tangibly affected by the decisions and systems that government chooses to implement."
Ms Adderley said: "We recognize that such changes do not take place in a vacuum. We are committed to public consultation, to collaboration and discourse to ensure we meet the needs of the Bahamian taxpayers to whom government is ultimately responsible."