The budgeting process is set to greatly improve in Barbados as a result of ECLAC Caribbean’s training for public finance managers on Public Expenditure Reviews (PERs), according to Mr. Seibert Frederick, Permanent Secretary in the Barbados Ministry of Economic Affairs. Speaking at the high-level briefing that concluded the training workshop, on 26 August 2016, Mr. Frederick emphasized the value and potential of the techniques imparted, in bolstering the efficiency of the budgeting exercise, and noted that the training would have definitely benefitted permanent secretaries.
The participants praised ECLAC for undertaking the initiative and echoed Mr. Frederick’s sentiments with regard to the usefulness of the training, adding that an enabling environment and mindset shift of policymakers and technicians are needed to ensure successful implementation of public expenditure reviews.
PERs are intended to align public sector expenditures with the priorities of the government. They are also intended to provide savings, either from resource reallocation or by reducing unproductive expenditures. In addition, by improving fiscal management, they can provide much needed fiscal space especially when a country is experiencing high debt levels.
The training was facilitated by eminent economist Professor Vanus James, who highlighted the usefulness of public expenditure reviews in elevating the budgeting process. He explained that ECLAC’s holistic approach of not only offering training, but also providing dedicated assistance to ensure that the techniques learnt are understood and successfully implemented for the utmost benefit of the respective Ministries, underscores its commitment to building national capacity.
This workshop is part of the ECLAC project, “Strengthening the technical capacity of public finance officials in select Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS)”, and complements the recently launched ECLAC debt for climate adaptation swaps proposal which is designed to promote fiscal responsibility and build the fiscal resilience of the Caribbean.
Mr. Sheldon McLean, coordinator of ECLAC Caribbean’s Economic Development Unit, offered insight into the motivation behind the project’s design, as well as its upcoming activities. He indicated that in addition to the completed training, the project offers sustained support to participating countries through the provision of dedicated technical assistance.
The training held in Barbados follows four similar workshops, held in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, and precedes a regional training module on forecasting and fiscal transparency to be held in Port of Spain from 19-23 September 2016. The final phase of the project will include follow up technical assistance for the participating countries to support their implementation of the PER techniques.