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DPM outlines key provisions of Public Financial Management Bill

Peter Turnquest. FILE

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest outlined the key provisions of the draft Public Financial Management (PFM) Bill yesterday. Along with the soon-to-be-enacted Fiscal Responsibility Bill, proposed Public Debt Management Bill and Public Procurement Bill, the legislation is expected to contribute to the reformation of government’s broader public financial management agenda.

“In a material respect, the PFM Bill will seek to enhance, clarify and adequately specify the roles and responsibility of persons/positions entrusted with management and control of public funds, assets, liabilities and other resources; build out provisions related to financial management, including the requirements for the preparation of cash flow forecasts; enhance the adequacy of reporting provisions, especially in-year reporting of fiscal information; specify accountability expectations for government agencies; include provisions related to sanctions for financial misconduct, financial crimes, institutional sanctions, recovery of losses other than by surcharge and publication of offences; consider improved oversight provisions for government agencies; and expand provisions related to annual budget information disclosure requirements,” Turnquest said during the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) Public Service Working Session at the Melia Nassau Beach resort, where the bill was introduced to senior public servants.

The draft bill is intended to replace the Financial Administration and Audit Act (FAAA), because of some of the deficiencies found within the legislation that were discovered during the preparation of the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, according to the deputy prime minister.

In addition to reinforcing government’s commitment to the promotion of efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and comprehensive financial reporting, the bill will help develop a new institutional and regulatory framework for managing public finances, and provide the coherent legal framework necessary to support the broader introduction of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS).

The process improvements are expected to strengthen accountability, oversight, management and control of public funds, according to Turnquest.

“You might recall, the financial secretary recently announced our intention to publish quarterly fiscal reports. The legislation we are developing will codify these protocols in law, supporting greater levels of transparency and accountability,” he said.

“I want to emphasize that your participation in this process is greatly appreciated, not only because of the intrinsic value of the work involved, but also because the outcome of these legislative changes will impact your work in a material way. The PFM law will set new standards and hold civil servants to a higher standard of accountability, including those elected by the people.”

The initial bill was drafted by CARTAC legal consultant Lynne McKenzie, who is facilitating the three-week review and drafting exercise for senior public servants along with CARTAC’s Public Finance Management Adviser Bruce Stacey.

“No matter how bad it is needed, the change process is often a difficult one. But I have every confidence that the changes we are proposing are the kind we can all get behind and support. The Bahamian public deserves a government that understands its responsibility to be accountable. To fulfil this obligation, we need the tools to support our work, and the legislative reform is all about that. These changes will create tools for you to use, for us all to use, to serve the Bahamian people better,” Turnquest said.

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