Finance Ministry’s reform, provision of timely information key issues faced after being appointed – Minister Jordan
GINA, Guyana, Thursday, May 11, 2017
Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, said that despite being familiar with the system, having served in the Finance Ministry in various senior capacities, he was surprised at what he found upon his return when he was appointed Minister. He described the Ministry as being affected by what he views as “a lack of progress.”
According to the Minister, since his return to head the Ministry of Finance, he has been trying to organise it to cater for, “the new and more dynamic environment, we are in. For example, reporters who have gone to our website would have seen a vastly different website than you would have had before. There is so much information now that some reporters are kind of worried on how to interpret some of them.”
Minister Jordan made these statements today, as he recapped the coalition government’s two-year anniversary in office. The coalition government won the May 11, 2015 National Elections.
He added that now stakeholders can get economic information with just an internet connection, “and despite it may be used sometimes against the government, the administration does not mind.” Despite this new move towards increased transparency, he noted that more still has to be done as information should not be hidden from the public, “…whether they are from the university, offices, whatever; the private sector uses that information for planning and so on; we will have a better economy at the end of the day,” Minister Jordan posited.
More services will be provided, Minister Jordan explained with the move by the Bureau of Statistics to conduct two long overdue censuses. He said, “One that will result in us understanding, what is the unemployment rate, both nationally and regionally… It is important to understand what the employment and unemployment rate is by region, so that you could plan regionally. And of course, it is important to understand whether you are making a difference nationally, to the unemployment rate.”
The second census will focus on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Minister Jordan noted, which has focused on Georgetown and its environs. This will be expanded to cover the regions. As prices vary from region to region, this will also help to shape how money is allocated for various purchases, for example.
The fact that National Budgets are being produced earlier, at the start of the fiscal year, should also be lauded. “People scoff at this but it is amazing…we are so accustomed to less that when we get more, we don’t know what to do, but it’s the change that you voted for.”
The Ministry is moving to upgrade its staffing capacity and capability, the Minister said, despite now having a, “better core of people here who understand their roles.” He emphasised that as a strict disciplinarian, he is of the view that, “Without discipline we can’t achieve anything.”
He has since moved to improve the services and modus operandi of staffers. Timeliness in terms of working hours and being professionally dressed are two examples, he cited.
“People now know that when they come to the ministry, nine out of ten times, the people will be there to serve them, and they will be there to serve them in a manner that befits them as citizens of this country.”
The Ministry has also instituted a system of appraisals. This is helping to get a clearer understanding of what is being done in terms of work output and services provided, he added. “We are trying to have more evidence-based, results-oriented programming and analyses.” To this end, Minister Jordan is requesting that retired personnel fill the posts of evaluators needed and interested persons can apply, especially those from the military, Guyana Police Force, former teachers and administrators.
Despite many of the changes being wrought, the Minister reminded that things cannot be changed overnight hence more time is needed for even more transparency and effectiveness. He is confident, however that the Finance Ministry, and by extension the Government, is on the right path.
By: Paul McAdam