The rate of implementation of Guyana’s Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) has been pegged at a lowly 20 percent, prompting a call by Finance Minister Winston Jordan for retired persons to become evaluators.
“If there is one that we haven’t really got going is the Public Sector Investment Programme, we would like to see far more done,” he said, adding that the problem is being faced by the implementation of ministries -Agriculture Public Infrastructure, Communities, Health and Education due to an absence of “critical skills.”
He could not say when the problems would be remedied because it is a “people problem” and even trained persons are moving on to another jobs as well as system- changes and turf protection. “It is not something that I feel is going to happen overnight,” he said.
At a time when the business community continues to complain about an economic recession, the Finance Minister said the reduction in the PSIP implementation is adversely impacting on growth. “It affects economic growth because in the economy that wants a stimulus it is government spending people look to. We have the monies voted. The issue is to get it out into the system so that dollar can continue making an extra dollar,” he said.
Jordan also said Thursday that government is re-establishing a central planning unit, with assistance from the Caribean Development Bank, to cut red-tape and revamping some of its procedures to fast-track the execution of projects efficiently and effectively. “With this planning institution, we are hoping that , just like in Jamaica, we can have some kind of central projects body so that it doesn’t impose these undue demands when you go at these little unit levels,” he said. Jordan explained that every time there is a foreign-funded project, personnel such as accountants, procurement officers and engineers in a system where there are skill-shortages.
He said steps would be taken to improve tendering in the 10 administrative regions. Assistance to improve tendering, he said, has been provided by the Inter-American Development Bank.
Conceding that the increased works have not been matched by an overhaul of the system, he again appealed for retired teachers, former policemen to apply to become evaluators. “We would like to broaden the pool of evaluators. We can do some quick training on them so that they can come and help us evaluate. We have a lot of in-breeding of the evaluation going on right now because the pool is very small but we would like to broaden this pool,” he said.
The Finance Minister said although three budgets have been in two years and well ahead of the statutory annual deadline of April 30, there is evidently a lag in advertising infrastructural and other projects as if the budgets had been presented around March.
Several combined reasons were identified for the slothful pace of implementation including a shortage of high quality staff and efforts by the two-year old coalition-led administration to weed out corruption in the tendering system and award of contracts. “As a result of ensuring proper accountability and transparency requires bit more time than just merely calling up a friend or two or you meeting at some particular hideout and giving them the contract,” said Jordan a former Budget Director.