New legislation being developed to revamp management of public finances
Government is seeking to fully and properly legislate the management of its debt through the creation of the Public Debt Management Bill and provide a legal framework to manage public funds through a Public Financial Management (PFM) Bill, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday.
Turnquest said public finances and the public debt have not been managed efficiently in the past and, therefore, changes have to be made.
“Specifically, the Public Financial Management Bill is being drafted with assistance from the IMF’s Caribbean Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC), and is expected to modernize and eventually replace the Financial Administration and Audit Act, 2010,” Turnquest said.
“Its main objective is to provide a more comprehensive legal framework that will provide the necessary support to strengthening the oversight, management and control of public funds.”
According to Turnquest, the PFM Bill enhances, clarifies and specifies the roles and responsibilities of financial officers; identifies provisions related to financial management, including cash flow forecasts; enhances the adequacy of reporting provisions; specifies accountability expectations for government agencies; includes the sanctions for financial misconduct, financial crimes, institutional sanctions and recovery of certain losses; considers
improved oversight provisions for government agencies; and expands provisions for annual budget disclosure requirements.
Turnquest said government intends to take the content of these bills to the general public for consultation, eventually.
“It is essential that we are as inclusive as possible in this legislation, so as to garner the desired outcome,” he said.
“In addition, we will continue to develop the draft Public Debt Management Bill, which seeks to consolidate and amend existing laws relating to public debt management in The Bahamas, and provide a governance framework for the prudent management of government debt activities guided by defined objectives.”
He added that a Public Debt Management Office within the Ministry of Finance, and a Public Debt Management Unit, will be established to govern the control of the country’s debt.
“This development will eradicate the past practice of inefficiently managing the country’s debt portfolio, and will instead create a framework for actively managing the country’s debt, with the aim of achieving the overarching goal of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio to a more sustainable level,” he said.