IDB working with gov’t on improving output from Public Sector Investment Programme

-‘Delivery Unit’ could be set up

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is working with the Guyana Government on improving the performance of  the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) and this could see the possible setting up of a “Delivery Unit”.

Recently, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan lamented the low expenditure by the PSIP as of June this year.

According to a press release yesterday from the IDB, its country office has engaged the services of Delivery Associates (DA), a consulting firm specializing in supporting the improvement of the effectiveness and accountability of governments worldwide. DA has already completed a diagnostic analysis of how Guyana’s PSIP works, including an analysis of its delivery chain. The firm is currently coordinating with the IDB to finalise the diagnostic report to the authorities, which would identify opportunities for improvements and present the model for delivery or implementation of the findings.

President David Granger (fourth from right) and his delegation meeting with Country Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, Sophie Makonnen (fifth from right) and the visiting team at State House. (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

The IDB release said that most governments, traditionally, placed too much emphasis on policy, and less on the importance of effective project implementation. Most countries adopt a model called a delivery unit or an implementation unit, a simple systematic process through which system leaders drive progress and achieve results specifically of capital projects carried out by governments.

The objective of the unit is to deliver concrete results in priority goals through planning, performance insights, problem solving, capacity building and coordination, according to the IDB release. Its lean structure is meant to support ministries, not replace or add additional layers to the government’s bureaucratic framework.

In the interim, the IDB, according to its statement, has been coordinating with senior Guyanese officials about this initiative, including President David Granger, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, and Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan.

To date, the IDB says it has supported the activities of DA through a US$145,000 grant approved earlier in the year, and is further planning to promote the initiative through financing a series of activities, with another grant of US$500,000, which will include the design of a delivery management model suitable for Guyana. This approach may establish the parameters for the possible establishment of a Delivery Unit in Guyana if all interests are aligned, the release added.

Speaking in July this year, Jordan had said “As at end June, less than 30 percent of the Public Sector Investment Programme [PSIP] was expended. What is the reason for this continued sloth in the implementation of the PSIP, at a time when it was touted as a boost to spending in the economy?”

In his remarks to the Heads of Budget Agencies and other Senior Government officials, Jordan highlighted the fact that the 2017 Budget had been delivered since the 26th November, 2016 and yet, there were budget agencies in June still figuring out specifications of items to be purchased.

“We have awarded only 53 percent of the PSIP and expended a mere 28 percent on maintenance of infrastructure within the recurrent budget. While we happily and deservedly bask in the glow of improved Grade Six examination results, we need to wake up to the reality that less than 50 percent of our Grade Six children passed mathematics this year. Drugs and medical supplies are still in short supply at GPHC and in all of our regions,” the minister lamented.

The Finance Minister reminded the participants that they are servants of the people charged with spending tax-payers money prudently and goals must be realistic. For ideas that reach the area of implementation, poor execution would compromise and depreciate the quality of the undertaking.  He added, “Wastage and inefficiency are to be abhorred since they rob the people of better services, better infrastructure and, ultimately, a better quality of life.”

Poor execution capacity has been a longstanding problem for the Guyana Government and has impacted on the efficacy of IDB programmes and those other multilateral institutions.