Professor Vanus James speaking to the participants in Belize
BELMOPAN, Belize -- Twenty government officials from Belize benefitted from a one week workshop to build capacity in conducting public expenditure reviews (PERs), focusing on applications for education, health, agriculture and social protection. PERs are intended to align expenditures with government’s priorities.
They are also intended to provide savings, either from expenditure reallocation or by reducing unproductive expenditures. In addition they improve fiscal management and can provide fiscal space especially when a country is experiencing high debt levels.
This project complements the recently launched ECLAC proposal for debt for climate adaptation swaps since it is designed to promote fiscal responsibility and build the fiscal resilience of the Caribbean; conditions that are integral to the success of the debt swap proposal.
The workshop conducted by ECLAC Caribbean, which was held in Belmopan from Monday 11 to Friday 15 July, 2016, drew participants from the ministries of finance, health, education, agriculture and public works, thereby engaging decision-makers with principal oversight for the productive sectors and social welfare. Representatives from the Statistical Institute of Belize and Human Resources also participated.
The ECLAC team was led by Dr Dillon Alleyne, deputy director of the ECLAC Port of Spain office and the workshop was facilitated by eminent regional economist Professor Vanus James.
On Friday 15 July, a special briefing was held for senior public officials, to demonstrate the value of high level support for PERs in generating better fiscal outcomes. Financial secretary in the ministry of finance of Belize, Joseph Waight, and deputy financial secretary and project focal point Marion Palacio, were among those in attendance.
Waight lauded the timing of the workshop, acknowledging that “there was pressure to use public resources efficiently” since taxpayers were demanding “value for money”.
This workshop is part of a four-country capacity building initiative organised and financed by ECLAC. Three other Caribbean countries will benefit from similar training workshops in July and August: Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis and Barbados.
Following the national workshops, a regional training module in forecasting and fiscal transparency will be held in Port of Spain for one week. The final phase of the project will include follow up technical assistance for the participating countries to support their implementation of the PER techniques.