Jul 29, 2016 News
By Kiana Wilburg
Systems and entities that facilitate financial transactions in Guyana are expected to be improved significantly
as Government lays out a menu of impacting reforms.
According to Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, first to see numerous changes is the Bank of Guyana. He said that this financial institution will licence cambios located outside of Georgetown, in order to facilitate businesses and individuals who reside in rural, hinterland and other remote or isolated areas.
The Central Bank will also conduct a study on implementing deposit insurance in Guyana, with the goal of rolling out a deposit guarantee scheme by 2017. This action, Jordan said, takes on heightened importance to protect businesses and individuals from losses in the case of a bank failure.
He said that the entity will also examine the feasibility of agency banking, which would allow local non-banks to provide some financial services. It is believed that Agency banking has the potential to dramatically improve access to banking in rural communities. As such, the Bank of Guyana also plans to support the expansion of mobile money, which would allow more people to save and transfer money using their phones, thereby reducing the transaction costs.
In collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the Bank of Guyana will undertake as well, a financial sector assessment.
In addition, Jordan said that the Bank of Guyana will be moving towards Basel II implementation, which will strengthen the regulatory framework governing banks and also result in Guyana aligning its capital requirements with internationally recommended best practices.
Basel II, which was introduced in 2006 by the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision, was intended to create an international standard for banking regulators to control how much capital banks need to set aside to guard against the types of financial and operational risks banks face.
Basel II has three pillars: ensuring that bank capital is more risk sensitive, ensuring that banks have adequate capital to support all the risks in their business, and enhancing disclosure requirements to make the risks banks take more transparent.
Additionally, the Financial Sector Reform and Strengthening (FIRST) Initiative, a project managed by the World Bank, is providing technical assistance to the Bank of Guyana to strengthen supervision of the Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs) and insurance companies.
The initiative aims to close gaps in the supervisory perimeter, regarding prudential and non-prudential standards, and to build supervisory capacity. The FIRST initiative will also assist with the development of a legal and institutional framework for market conduct and financial consumer protection.
As part of the financial consumer protection initiative, the Bank of Guyana will be enhancing its National Financial Literacy Programme. The Finance Minister said it is hoped that the average citizen will be empowered with the ability to make informed financial judgments and take effective decisions regarding the use and management of his/her money.
As it relates to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the Government of Guyana is currently reviewing the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Guyana and the US. The government presently has an Agreement in substance; signing this Agreement would solidify government’s commitment to honour the requirements of that Act.
Reforms are also expected when it comes to Public Administration and Public Financial Management.
Jordan reminded that last December, President David Granger requested that each Ministry table their Annual Performance Report in Cabinet. He said that all Ministries were required to report on their key performance indicators against their set targets for the year 2015.
Jordan emphasised that this is now a mandatory feature that will occur annually and is part of a fresh approach. Jordan said that Budget Agencies and Regions must develop and implement strategic plans that are monitored through performance indicators and adopt Performance Monitoring Frameworks.
The Finance Minister said that for too long, plans have been developed without adequate baseline data. He promised that under this administration, such practices will end. He said that the Government is seeking to re-establish a capacity for national planning, and has sought the assistance of the Caribbean Development Bank to facilitate this process.
Jordan said, too, that real growth cannot be accomplished if the poor performance of implementing projects, funded within the public sector investment programme (PSIP), is not addressed with alacrity. He said that significant contributors to delayed project execution include national procurement policies and the operations of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
He said, “It is, therefore, time that we rethink the structure and mechanism employed in implementing development projects. In this regard, plans are underway for the enhancement of procurement processes and procedures… Cabinet agreed to increases in the ministerial and regional tender board limits, so as to empower Ministries and regions to undertake more in-house evaluations. In order to reduce the volume of paperwork received by the NPTAB, Section 4(2) of the Regulations to the Procurement Act will be amended to require that all contracts exceeding $1.5 million in value are to be posted on NPTAB’s website.”
Jordan said that other improvements include: ensuring contractor compliance to tender/bid requirements; strengthening contractor capacity and capabilities through training and capacity building initiatives and ensuring that contracts are awarded within contractors’ technical, financial, equipment and managerial capabilities.
The Finance Minister asserted that Government has recognized the need to improve the quality of human resources within the public sector and, to this end, will operationalize the Public Service Staff College this year. Further, capacity building in project management and public policy analysis, monitoring and evaluation, and procurement planning, will become a standard feature within the public service.
To ensure that this all happens in an environment of accountability, Jordan said that moves will be made to strengthen internal audit capacity and mechanisms, to ensure that the delivery of public goods and services occurs in a transparent manner. Together, it is expected that these initiatives will build the absorptive capacity of public and private sectors to respond promptly and effectively to the development challenges before the nation.
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