The Public Finance Management Bill 2019 has been described by Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology Kay McConney as “show and tell at the very highest level of financial management”.
And according to her, the bill has brought about such a high level of transparency that Government is now “practically naked” when it comes to the management of public finances.
“This bill is a bold next step in prudent financial
management and fiscal governance for Barbados. This bill represents a higher standard of responsible government to meet the expectations of our citizens, the expectations of our local investors and the expectations of our international investors and partners,” McConney said during debate in the Senate this morning.
“With this bill, the present government is standing up for the public interest. We are committing first ourselves to an unprecedented level of openness about how government manages public finances and by so doing, we are setting this country on a path to sustainability.”
McConney said among other things the bill would bring discipline to the practice of financial management in all of Government, enable transparency in the public’s interest, mandate accountability for all persons who serve as public officials with responsibilities for handling public monies, as well as to introduce proactive risk management into the culture of financial management in Barbados.
“We have had a situation in Barbados where state-owned entities especially, although not exclusively, operated under separate Acts, held themselves to standards and rules of financial management that were loose and this looseness led to incidences of mismanagement and wastage and possibly corruption that put this country’s economy in danger,” McConney said.
“It filled the pockets of an unscrupulous few and it left the people of Barbados vex. This bill proposes to tighten up on this looseness . . .”
The minister said she was pleased that the bill was not “empty” and carried sanctions of up to a $200 000 fine and five years in prison or both for those persons found guilty.
McConney said the current administration has shown its willingness to take steps to weed out all forms of corruption.
“This current Barbados Labour Party administration has come to the point of bringing this bill before this Honourable House as a government that has long been committed to raising the standards and practices of prudent financial management to a higher level in Barbados.
“We cannot ‘unring’ the bells of financial mismanagement, of seeming negligence and possible corruption that are still ringing in our ears at home and abroad from the decisions and actions of the last government administration,” McConney said.
“We cannot rewind the damage done to Barbados’ reputation internationally, but we can do better. We can hold ourselves to a higher standard going forward.”