St. Kitts – Nevis Government To Economize

Cost Cutting Government Spending

Public Servants Urged To Be Frugal With Public Funds

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
March 23, 2009 (CUOPM)

The need for public servants to carefully and prudently manage the expenditure of the public purse, as it is patently obvious that the trauma of the global economic recession, which is very expansive, can only be contained through sustained efforts of sound fiscal control was highlighted last Friday.

At a meeting hosted by the Accountant General’s Department of the Ministry of Finance,  to deal with the issues, techniques and ramifications of Cash Flow Management, particularly in the prevailing environment of the phenomenon of the global financial crisis which is causing adverse effects on economies across the world, the Financial Secretary, Mrs. Janet Harris indicated that very tight measures have been, and will continue to be put in place to guard against any major deterioration in the present situation.

Mrs. Harris added that the policy of the Ministry of Finance also dictates that Government will not spend more than it collects and stated that liquidity in the financial market is difficult at this time.

The Financial Secretary advised the gathering of Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Department, Accounting Officers and other support staff from ministries and departments throughout the Public Service that the Government’s budgetary proposals for 2009 were revised several times.

She said that on the earlier contemplation of the Budget, it was anticipated that there would have been a growth rate of 4 percent.

However, when the international financial climate started to become lethargic, it was then revised to 3.2 percent at the time of the Budget Presentation, but recently with increasing decline in the global environment it became necessary to take a more reflective assessment and hence the economy is now predicted to contract by 1.2 percent for 2009.

Minister of Finance, Dr. the Hon Timothy Harris fully supported the statements of the Financial Secretary, and encouraged public servants to actively play their part in cutting out wastage of Government’s resources.

He spoke to the provisions of the Finance Administration Act of 2007, No. 13 of 2007, which underscore the responsibilities that rest on the Minister of Finance, the Financial Secretary, the Accountant General, accounting officers and all other public officers.

Because of the sacredness of these responsibilities, he said it behoves all public officers to be vigilant and mindful of how Government’s resources are treated. Dr Harris gave some instances of abuse and wastage in the public service such as cases where, a department or ministry has stocks of goods on hand but yet purchase additional quantities of the same goods, thereby resulting in overstocking; items are bought from a supplier without checking alternative suppliers to ascertain if these items can be bought at a cheaper price; employees arrive for work late on a regular basis and very often request time off to attend functions during Government’s time, and thereby the public service sustains substantial loss of productivity.

Dr. Harris implored the participants, and by extension, all public servants to rise to the challenges which confront as he is convinced that together “we can weather the storm of global uncertainty.”

He went on by encouraging all not to be afraid to ask questions of colleagues within the Public Service, for it is in so doing that their knowledge will be increased.

The Minister ended by recommending that love for each other must be a key element in the framework of a singleness of purpose, if the country’s quest for a tough new regime for the control of public expenditure is to be successfully realized.

The Minister also appealed to the revenue collecting Departments such as the Electricity Department, Water Department, Customs and Excise Department and the Inland Revenue Department, to do their best efforts in collecting government revenues including arrears.  He also crystallized the role of the Audit function in special circumstances of austerity.

Presentations were made by Mr. Denis Lapage, Public Finance Management Advisor of CARTAC who dealt with the matter of Strategic Budgeting; Mrs. Janet Harris, Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance who covered the Impact of the Global Financial Crisis; Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, Minister of Finance, who addressed the need for Best Approaches; Ms. Mavis Marongwe, Senior Parliamentary Counsel in the Ministry of Legal Affairs who spoke to the Responsibilities of Accounting Officers; and Mr. Levi Bradshaw, Accountant General, outlined the Cash Flow Management Model adopted by Government.

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