PR – Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, is urging the new Minister and staff of the Ministry of Finance not to drop their guard as the country continues to deal with the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As he continued his round of meetings with ministers and the senior staff in the various ministries, Dr. Mitchell urged heads of departments and units in the Ministry of Finance to continue to closely monitor Government spending.
He said, “We have to be careful about how we operate; we must be mindful of the significant impact the pandemic is having on economies around the world. It is troubling that some financial transactions are being conducted as if nothing has changed. Resources are limited and therefore we have to examine things more carefully. We cannot afford to drop our guard and be irresponsible in our spending. We must optimise revenue while minimising expenditure”
Dr. Mitchell who served as the Minister of Finance for several years, said the Ministry of Finance has a bigger responsibility than most. He said, “All ministries have a responsibility to closely monitor spending but the Ministry of Finance has a bigger responsibility as it must undertake the necessary checks and balances to ensure that we operate within the framework of the financial legislation we have instituted. As Government, we have a role to protect taxpayers’ money and if we are not doing that, then we are abdicating our fundamental responsibility.”
The Prime Minister is confident that under the stewardship of Minister Gregory Bowen, the Ministry of Finance will continue to perform well. He said, “Minister Bowen is no stranger to the operations of the Ministry of Finance. We have worked as a team for many years with him having input on many of the major decisions that have been taken. He is thorough and meticulous in his approach and I expect that to continue.”
Job creation through the implementation of public sector projects has been identified as a critical factor to spur economic activity. Dr. Mitchell said Minister Bowen is ideally positioned to help achieve this as he has just transitioned from the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.
Dr. Mitchell noted too that the assignment of two permanent secretaries in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, Physical Development, Public Utilities and Energy, provides additional strength and support. He said, “This ministry carries an enormous responsibility, particularly so during this period. It is therefore important that we assign personnel in the most strategic way. I am confident that Mr. Mike Sylvester who has just returned from a stint at the International Monetary Fund and Ms. Patricia Clarke who has ably led the ministry in the past, will work well together, and with the new minister, for the benefit of the ministry and the country as a whole.”
Several ministry officials took the opportunity to thank the Prime Minister for his leadership over the years and for continuously motivating them to do more. They have also committed to working with the new Minister of Finance to continue managing the country’s coffers.
The Ministry of Finance senior staff also provided feedback and suggestions for the way forward including, developing increased conscientiousness about spending, improving the rate of implementation, creating synergies across ministries and finding creative solutions to the challenges brought about by the pandemic.