…calls on them to provide solutions to recurring sectoral problems
By Kiana Wilburg
Finance Minister Winston Jordan has often found that budget proposals submitted to the Ministry of Finance lead to more questions than answers. At the opening of the Ministry’s first 2019 Budget Sensitization and Training Programme, Jordan insisted that budget proposals should be solutions to resolving challenges faced in various sectors.
On this note, the economist laid out several problems which remain without answers. Jordan highlighted that there are increasing allocations to the health sector, but there remains continued drug shortages and less hospital inspections than previous years. In this regard, the Finance Minister said that health accounts for 12.5 percent of the national budget, in 2018. He then questioned, “What intervention within the budget proposal will resolve this conundrum of increasing allocations but declining availability?”
The Finance Minister also pointed out that there are increasing allocations to education, but still less than 50 percent of the nation’s children are passing Math and English. He said that education accounts for 17.2 percent of the national budget in 2018, and as such, budget officers must ask themselves what proposal will resolve this.
Jordan said, “Why do we have increasing allocations for maintenance and infrastructure development, yet our Public Sector Infrastructure Programme is filled with requests to rehabilitate existing infrastructure rather than expanding the capital base of the country through new infrastructure, where none previously existed? Infrastructure accounts for 13.1% of the national budget in 2018.”
“Are you, as Heads of Budget Agencies, approving performance-based gratuities without measuring performance? Or, worse, are you signing off on poor performance and shying away from your responsibility to take decisions in the best interest of achieving desired results? Are you putting pen to paper when staff do not deliver or simply sitting lamenting in your offices?”
The Finance Minister noted that heads of budget agencies must be able to competently critique systems that are not working or not contributing to delivering the results. And by critique, Jordan said he wants his officers to offer workable solutions.
“Are you coming to Budget 2019 hearings to rehash the same problems and hurdles you did for the last several years? Or, are you proposing innovative solutions to drive national development? What is your theory of change for the programmes under your remit? I hope that these are some of the questions that occupy your minds. I can assure you that they will be asked during your participation at the national budget hearing slated to begin on August 16th.”
Jordan stressed that where there are hurdles, officers must aim to innovate and find solutions. He also assured that the Ministry of Finance and the teams within the Office of the Budget and the Project Cycle Management Division stand ready to assist.
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