With concerns being raised over some aspects of its implementation, the Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation (BERT) programme is to get new domestic oversight by the Social Partnership.
A BERT Monitoring Committee has been set up, as the tripartite group of Business, Labour and Government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this morning.
But it was unclear if the new check and balances were designed to address growing concerns over the manner in which the retrenchment process has gone thus far. Last month Mottley declared that she had evidence that sabotage was behind some of the mistakes seen in the rollout of the public sector layoffs.
Since layoffs began in October, there has been confusion and a critical backlash over the way Goverment was handling the process. In November, at least three of the island’s magistrates’ courts were left with no one to receive fees or fines when clerks and cashiers were given their walking papers.
“I am now satisfied that there is an element of sabotage with respect to some aspects of it. And I am not blaming anybody, but I am not blind,” she said at the time while warning that there would be order and accountability within Government as the restructuring process continued.
Along with Government, represented by the Prime Minister’s office, the BERT monitoring committee consists of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), The Barbados Creditors Group (BCG), Barbados Workers Union (BWU), National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB).
“BERT Monitoring Committee provides an avenue for the Barbados Creditors Group and the members of the Social Partnership, to receive and review information from the Government of Barbados on the progress of implementation and achievement of the targets under the (IMF) Extended Fund Facility [US$290 million] and assist in ensuring that such targets were achieved,” the agreement stated.
Under the MOU, Government is to provide the BERT Monitoring Committee with information on the progress and performance on its Macro-Fiscal Targets, and to assist in ensuring that those targets are achieved. The Committee will also be provided with the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) and will be required to advise the public of progress on the Macro-Fiscal Targets in the programme and this would include relaying concerns to the public where appropriate.
A second unit within Prime Minister’s Office is to provide oversight to various Government ministries and departments tasked with carrying out the economic recovery plan’s objectives.
“The economic programme under the Extended Fund Facility will require various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) within the public sector to undertake activities that contribute to the delivery of the Macro-Fiscal Targets. The activities of these MDAs will be monitored and coordinated by the Coordinating and Implementation Unit (CIU) established within the Prime Minister’s Office and headed by the Director of Finance and Economic Affairs,” the agreement stated.
The BERT Monitoring Committee operates independently of Government and is only required to report to the Social Partners or the public. The committee will be co-chaired by a representative appointed by the BPSA and a representative appointed by the BWU, NUPW and CTUSAB selected in consultation with Prime Minister Mia Mottley. With the exception of the BPSA, which gets three committee members, all other entities which represent the BERT Monitoring Committee will be allotted one member each.