Just six months to “fully utilise” more than $40 million on the fight against deadly HIV and AIDS.
That’s the challenge facing the Freundel Stuart Administration, which has received a new restructuring proposal from financier the World Bank, one the institution said was in response to a November 23, 2012 letter from Government.
Barbados TODAY understands that up to March 5 this year only $29.6 million of an overall $70 million loan had been disbursed.
The bank, in a paper submitted to the Ministry of Finance, recommended that this ministry take charge of the loan coordination, disbursement, financial management functions, while leaving the Ministry of Health responsible for procurement, monitoring and evaluation and supervision.
It also suggested that the National HIV/AIDS Commission “continue to coordinate the multi sectoral national response to HIV including the civil society grant scheme and behavior change communication”.
“The bank has assessed the institutional capacity under the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health for managing fiduciary functions such as financial management and procurement and found it satisfactory,” the World Bank stated.
“Under the new structure, the project financial management officer reports to the Project Director and the Ministry of Finance oversees the financial management of the project to ensure the preparation of the financial reports, withdrawal applications and audits are carried out according to the bank requirements in a timely manner.
“The procurement officer at the Ministry of Health, who has trained for bank procurement requirement, will manage project procurement. The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health will provide guidance on the technical issues related to HIV prevention and control and monitor and evaluation. The new management structure will improve the leadership and management capacity for final project implementation,” it added.
The organisation said its proposed revised project governance structure would “strengthen project leadership and improve capacity for better performance”.
These recommended changes are in line with statements made in December last year by then Minister of Family Stephen Lashley, who told Parliament Barbados was facing a “partial cancellation” of a portion of the $70 million World Bank project loan if changes were not made.
In its recent restructuring paper proposal, the institution did acknowledge that Barbados had “made significant progress in combating HIV/AIDS”, noting that “the rate of AIDS-related mortality has dramatically decreased, due to the greater availability of antiretroviral therapy”.
“Barbados has eliminated mother to child HIV transmission since 2007 and 100 per cent of identified HIV positive pregnant women have received a complete course of ART to reduce mother to child transmission in 2011,” it said. (SC)