Government foresees significant improvement in completion of projects in 2018 -Minister Harmon charges Ministry Heads to ‘step up game’

Georgetown, Guyana – (February 27, 2018) As the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), yesterday, opened a one-day Public Policy Analysis Management (PPAM) and Project Cycle Management (PCM) Training Programme 2018 – Face-To-Face Session, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon said that Government foresees a significant improvement in the completion of public sector projects in 2018. This is even as he noted that every public sector employee must improve their output to ensure a more efficient and effective public service.

In his address to Heads of Budget Agencies, Permanent Secretaries and Deputy Permanent Secretaries at the opening ceremony held at the Grand Coastal Inn today, Minister Harmon said that based on a recent meeting with the heads of the various Ministries, Government is pleased with the progress being made on the implementation of projects in 2018. “I am convinced that based on what I have seen for the programmes for 2018 that we are well underway to achieving those guidelines or those projects that have been identified by the Government. Guided by the philosophy [of] His Excellency, President David Granger, we intend to continue this trajectory of development. We intend to continue with the work, which is being done by the Ministries [and] by the Regional administration so that we can ensure that quality service is provided to the people of Guyana,” the Minister said.

Noting that the Government inherited several challenges as it relates to the implementation of programmes and projects, which included the roll-over of monies due to improper disbursement, poor administration of contracts, contracts being put on hold or rolled over as well as a lack of knowledge with regard to the new procurement system, Minister Harmon said that the administration was prompted to take action to reverse the trend of slow turnover rate for public sector projects to ensure that this did not become a norm.

“This, of course prompted Cabinet under the President to initiate regular statuary meeting with Permanent Secretaries and Technical Officers from the Ministry of Finance to ensure efficient disbursal of Public Sector Improvement Programme (PSIP) funds and effective monitoring and evaluation of these projects. At our most recent meeting held in January 2018, I am pleased to say that based on the overall assessment, that there has been significant improvement in the performance of Ministries, Departments and Regional organisations with respect to their spending and with respect to their performance under the PSIP. This has been a remarkable turnaround and from 2015, 2016, and when we started meeting the Permanent Secretaries, and the Ministry of Finance Budget heads in 2017, almost within six months we would have seen a remarkable turnaround in the way in which we were approaching these matters,” the Minister of State noted.

In May 2017, Minister of Finance, Mr. Winston Jordan, had reported that only 20 percent of the country’s Public Sector Investment Programme had been implemented at that time despite the National Budget having been presented to the National Assembly in December 2016. Minister Harmon said that training and capacity building is critical and the PPAM and PCM Training Programme comes at an opportune time given the important role that the public service plays in implementing Government programmes for the good of the people of Guyana.

“Your participation as decisions makers and senior technicians within the Public sector is one which is so important to us and as you are well aware I have had cause to have serious conversations with Permanent Secretaries and the Regional Executive Officers [REOs] on previous occasions with respect to the manner in which we were dealing with our responsibilities in the Public Sector Improvement Programme. The management of the Ministry of Finance…recognised the need for improvement in the way in which we were dealing with Public Sector Projects. They recognised that…whatever we were doing now, we would have to step up our game. We have to become better and the first thing I want to say to you Permanent Secretaries and REOs is that you are not clerks. The Ministers of the Government lay out policies and you are responsible for administration. You have an important responsibility in ensuring that the projects, which have been identified and for which budgetary allocations have been made, that they are carried out,” he said.

Further, Minister Harmon said that today’s training programme is part of capacity building efforts to ensure that the President’s call for the public service to operate as a professional, efficient and effective engine of the Government is achieved.

“We believe that the political administration should set the policy framework by conceptualising policy for development and allowing the professional administrators and technicians to analyse and design and implement those policies for the people of our dear country as well as get value for money. The President appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the public service to examine, advise and report on salaries, conditions of service, training and other matters pertaining to the improvement of the efficiency of the performance of the public service and the well-being of public servants in the public service. In the Commission’s report the entire chapter three was dedicated to training and staff development. This chapter embodied comprehensive analysis of the training needs of the public service,” he said.

Mr. Tarachand Balgobin, Director of the Project Cycle Management Division, Ministry of Finance, in his remarks, said that for some time now, challenges have been faced in the design and implementation of projects under the PSIP. To this end, he said that Ministry approached Cabinet with a plan of action, which included this training to ensure that there is timely delivery of projects while ensuring good governance practices and value for money.

“We undertook to provide in field support to Permanent Secretaries, REOs, and Heads of Budget agencies. This took the form of what we term PSIP Clinics. To date we have PSIP Clinics at several Ministries including Public Infrastructure, Education, Agriculture, Security and we will continue in the new week to ensure we cover all Ministries.  Policy decision making in necessary for timely achievements of projects. We also recognised that in the planning of the PSIP and implementing the PSIP can only be effectively be done in an environment of strong, vibrant and involved PPAM and PCM and it is this imperative that led us to this training endeavour,” he said.

Mr. Reginald Graham, Consultant Coordinator of the CDB, in his remarks said that organisation is pleased to be on board in the process of building capacity in the country and the Caribbean region. He noted that with this programme, the aim is to train at least 200 public officials in Guyana so that they can return and apply it in their Ministries and Agencies.

Following this phase of training, Mr. Graham said that there is a Training of the Trainer component to ensure that there is a sustainability of the programme in the public service.

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