Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest reflected on the changes made by the Finance Ministry in 2018, as well as those on the horizon, during a Leadership Symposium hosted by the Public Treasury Department for Accounting Heads and Finance & Accounting Officers.
“I am thinking of Fiscal Responsibility Legislation, in particular. The Fiscal Responsibly Act, 2018, is a great metaphor for the changes because it stands for a new era of transparency, accountability, inclusivity, stability and forward planning,” DPM Turnquest said at the British Colonial Hilton, Friday, January 11, 2019.
“The governing principles it lays out, call us to a higher standard as managers of the people’s finances, so I implore all of you to familiarize yourself with the legislation.”
He noted that passing a new law does not automatically transform everything, but it sets the standard, and obligates the shifting of the culture.
“Consequently, last year we saw the introduction of quarterly budget performance reporting and fiscal strategy reporting. Also, by incorporating some of the global thinking around citizens’ budgets, we saw the Ministry of Finance engage in communication activities around the national budget that made budget information more accessible than ever before.”
The DPM added that these initiatives have only scratched the surface of what is possible in terms of better governance.
He said on the horizon, the Public Financial Management legislation is underway, which will replace and modernize the Financial Administration and Audit Act, more clearly defining the roles and responsibility of finance officers, and introducing criminal penalties for financial misconduct.
“It will set new standards for the frequency of reporting on budgetary and transparency matters, and improve oversight provisions for government agencies, including requirements for ministries and agencies to produce annual reports that outline key performance indicators.”
Also on the horizon is the full implementation of the new Chart of Accounts and the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), the Public Debt Management Legislation and Public Procurement Legislation.
DPM Turnquest said, “There is no doubt, the Government is on the move to transform the way we do business. Our outdated processes must be modernized. Our bureaucratic processes must be simplified. Our independent silos must be integrated.
“As your minister, and as a member of this government, I can tell you that we are determined, and we know that empowering our public sector leaders is an absolute must. We need you now more than ever before, because together, we must lead the change.
“Together, we must shift the culture of governance and deliver better results for the Bahamian people.”
The DPM provided the officers with five guiding principles to understand the type of cultural shift the Government is working to achieve.
“1. Together we will move from a system of ‘ad hoc-ism’ to having defined plans and strategies.
2. Together we will move from a model of confidential government to open and transparent government.
2. Together we will move from a system of ineffective controls to strong oversight.
3. Together we will remove restrictions and barriers to empower our leaders.
4. Together we will abolish the culture of impunity and usher in an era of accountability: accountability in our management and accountability in our results.”
DPM Turnquest said, “These are challenging, intimidating and exciting times. We are