Government officials begin seven-day budget training

Government officials are being trained on budget presentation and implementation through monitoring and evaluation.

The week-long training workshop is spearheaded by the Ministry of Finance to provide technical and non-technical orientation on monitoring and evaluation to promote better management of public resources. Dr Ray Rist, a leading international expert in the field of results based monitoring and evaluation systems, is facilitating the workshop, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

Among those participating are staff from the Office of the Budget, permanent secretaries and other officials of the various government ministries. Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh who delivered remarks at the opening of the workshop encouraged the facilitator and the participants to ensure that the training coincides and builds on the systems and institutional arrangements already in place.

“I believe that considerable progress has already been made and what we really need to do is refine on what we have, strengthen what we have… but importantly build on what we have already established,” the minister was quoted as saying. GINA said that he called on stakeholders to be cautious about reinventing the wheel and echoed government’s continuing concern about duplication and replication of work already existing.

According to GINA, the workshop confirms government’s ongoing process of reform for better management of public resources which Singh explained dated back to 2000 when a range of constitutional reforms were introduced to strengthen the institutional arrangements. During these attempts, autonomy was also given to the Auditor General and several sectoral committees were set up in Parliament such as the economic, social services and foreign relations committees, GINA said.

Legislative amendments were also pursued including the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA), a new Audit and Public Procurement Act, which Singh explained formed the basis for the new institutional arrangements for managing public resources. The report noted that the FMAA zeroes in on measurement of performance by every government programme including performance indicators for every ministry’s programme and for targets to be set and reported to Parliament. The broad objective, according to the Minister, was to fortify measurement and monitoring of results with oversight at the level of the Parliament and the ministries.

The Auditor General through the new Audit Act has been given the authority to pronounce on the efficiency and effectiveness with which government agencies were managing their operations, GINA said.

The report said the Finance Minister was adamant about the magnitude of work needed at the level of government agencies to achieve development outcomes and highlighted the importance of high level performance at the ministry level.

Earlier in the workshop, Dr Rist lectured the participants about three characteristics of high performing organisations which he said includes an organisation that is low in fear, rich in information and admits to problems and finds solutions. Over the seven days of training, Dr Rist said, heavy focus will be placed on moving from outputs to achieving outcomes given that people often have intangible demands from the government such as results, benefits or outcomes. “There’s a pressure on governments all over the world…to deliver results rather than to have more roads, more bridges, more tunnels…we have to talk about how the public sector becomes result oriented,” he was quoted as saying.

GINA said Rist is a retiree from the Independent Valuation Group from the World Bank and continues to serve as an advisor to several organisations and governments. He served for 15 years in the United States government with senior appointments in the executive and legislative branches.

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