Government is reporting a significant increase in the implementation of the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) following the institution of monthly Cabinet briefings for Permanent Secretaries.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon noted that at the end of 2017, most ministries were reporting programme completions at the level of 75% or more.
This represents a significant increase from the less than 30 percent completion reported by Minister of Finance Winston Jordan in June of 2017.
Following the dismal half year performance, Cabinet instituted monthly briefings where Permanent Secretaries were called on to provide updates on both expenditure and project completions. As a result, there “has been a dramatic turn from June to December” and according to Harmon some ministries now have planning units to track their projects.
Additionally, work began in 2017 to ensure that all Public Sector contracts are tendered for and awarded by half year. The expectation is that by August, 2018 there will be a “clearing of the field” and all projects will be completed by December, 2018.
Minister Jordan had previously shared this information with the National Assembly in November, 2017.
“We have approached the preparation of Budget 2018 with a significantly sterner disposition, since continuing with the status quo was untenable and unthinkable. During the preparation process, Budget Agencies were mandated to ensure that procurement plans were prepared in support of their 2018 work programmes; bills of quantities and terms of references were prepared in 2017 for 2018; and procurement processes commenced prior to the New Year,” Jordan told the House at that time.
Harmon on Thursday explained that the last Cabinet meeting saw these briefings being provided by Permanent Secretaries as well as technical officers from the Ministry of Finance.
He reminded that significant sums allocated under the PSIP in 2015, 2016 and 2017 were not efficiently and effectively dispersed and at several points contracts had been poorly administered.
Consequently, it was decided that Cabinet would have monthly statutory meetings with Permanent Secretaries to ensure efficient and effective disbursement of PSIP funds and monitor spending. Government also resolved to institute necessary measures to ensure that contracts awarded under the PSIP would be executed within timeframe and that appropriate penalties would be applied to defaulters.
At Tuesday’s meeting, government ministers were provided with an overall analysis of PSIP project, overturn for the fiscal year (2017), projects execution rates at the half year 2017 and the PSIP expenditure by the end of January, 2018.
The 2018 work plans were also examined. These include the preparation of procurement plans for all agencies, format for PSIP monitoring reports, and a format for preparations for various financial analyses. Also highlighted for effective short-term spending were prioritising disbursement for small non-technical projects, while planning for large technical contracts, compulsory training for relevant staff, institutional strengthening and improved working relations between relevant agencies.