Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan addressing participants of the Mini (IPDET)

Remarks by the Hon. Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance at the Monitoring & Evaluation Training Workshop
Mini-IPDET
13 April, 2016, Arthur Chung Convention Centre

Members of the Head Table (Dr Rist, Dr Imas, DOB), Participants, Members of the Media (TBC)

Good morning and Welcome:

I am pleased to be delivering remarks at this Monitoring & Evaluation Training Workshop. As I recently highlighted, in the 2015 Budget Speech to the National Assembly, and, as previously stated by His Excellency President Granger, under this Government, emphasis will be placed on building a robust public sector that places a premium on transparency and reporting for greater accountability and good governance.

While monitoring and evaluation is a relatively new management tool to Guyana, it has been recognised across the globe, in both developed and developing countries, as one of the most essential elements in ensuring effective public financial management. As a country with limited financial resources, the need to ensure value for money, through targeted and effective programming, become paramount. It is the commitment of our Administration to ensure that M&E is institutionalised across the central government. Throughout my own career, spanning over 30 years in public finance and related areas, I have always been and will continue to support all tools that allow for more effective public finance management.

I understand that this is the 18th and 19th cohorts of public servants being trained in key concepts in M&E. I know that changing what is known as “the public service culture” will take time. However, those who know me know how impatient I am with getting results.  Therefore, I expect that at least in the pilot agencies – Health and Education – (which together account for nearly one-third of the 2016 Budget), as well as the other agencies that have already been exposed, I will be looking for sector-wide adoption of the tools acquired.  I intend to not only champion the utility of M&E under this Administration, but also to advance this line with my Cabinet colleagues and all Ministers. For you, and the almost 900 public servants before you, I urge that a special session be arranged and devoted to showcasing the changes you have been able to make in the institutions and programmes that you represent, as a result of exposure to this training.

This Administration has pledged greater accountability and transparency to the people of this country, and we intend to ensure that we deliver on these promises.  The population deserves no less. People must enjoy well delivered services for the taxes that they pay and it is our job as public servants to ensure we serve creditably and effectively. There may be missteps along the way, but it should never be in doubt that we intend to uphold the highest tenets of good governance and open government.

As Minister of Finance, in my 2015 Budget, I addressed issues of strengthened public administration, in which I emphasised the need for faster, smarter and more effective systems. To make this a reality, it will depend on you to change the way you work and deliver services to the public. For example, I have already tasked one of the key institutions under my remit, the Guyana Revenue Authority, to become less desk-bound in their approach to tax collection and to go out and collect the taxes from those noncompliant individuals and companies, in order to effectively discharge their responsibility as a Revenue Authority.

As a Government, we intend to be evidence-driven in our decision-making and policy development, strategic in our thinking and planning and, importantly, data-driven in our actions. In respect to the latter, we have taken immediate action already to ensure that the Bureau of Statistics can execute one of its mandates of making reliable data available to the population to drive informed policy development and decision-making. The words “I think” and “I feel” have no place in guiding policy implementation! We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result; implementing programmes without data and evidence is simply shooting in the dark. In other words, wasting resources. We need to stop guessing and become analytical as officers responsible for delivering services to the public; we need to be informed about our target group and design policies and programmes to address the needs of the public in practical and effective ways.  When you provide advice to your seniors and supervisors and policy makers, it must be data-driven.

Monitoring and Evaluation must be viewed within the wider context of results-based management and within the national context, good governance and accountability will guide the outputs and outcomes of Budget Agencies. The FMAA of 2003 speaks of the Programme Performance Statements being submitted by the Budget Agencies. If you are part of Government, then please ensure that you read and internalise at least this section of the Act.  I am aware that many of you join the public service and never make an effort to become familiar with the FMAA. This has to change.

Going forward, the Ministry of Finance will be looking to expand its actions in the area of M&E and these will include:

  • Finalising and disseminating the national policies to guide the conduct of monitoring and evaluation across central government thereby ensuring standardisation in the conduct of M&E functions;
  • Developing a clear strategy for communicating and raising awareness of M&E throughout central government; with appropriate advocacy tools to support this activity with the aim of increasing the demand and utility of M&E;
  • Finalising the costing of the National Strategy and Action Plan and costing the Medium-Term training plan.
  • Galvanising the M&E Oversight and Steering Committees to ensure increased championship and strategic direction for the roll-out of the initiative to other central government agencies;
  • Adequately staffing the core M&E unit at MOF and the focal points at the sector ministries to ensure effective implementation and roll-out of the plan; and
  • Expanding training in M&E beyond the basic level to intermediate and advanced levels.

In short, firmly institutionalising the culture of M&E across all Government funded programmes and projects.

I am advised that Dr. Rist is an international authority on M&E. I have perused some of his writings in this area and you should do so as well. I can assure you that you are being trained by one of the best in the world. I am also particularly pleased to see that we have adopted a curriculum that is delivered at the Carleton University, in Ottawa, so that the content you receive, titled Mini-IPDET, is internationally recognised.

I want to thank Dr Rist and the IDB for partnering with us to support this capacity building effort. This training is a part of the larger goal to have a cadre of officers in central government that are competent in the field of M&E, so as to increase the national capacity for the conduct of monitoring and evaluation functions across our country. We have to have smarter, faster and more effective systems and your change of behaviour, using the tools you acquire here over the next 5 days, is one way of ensuring that this becomes a reality.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all a very productive training session. Please note that the success will be judged by both the outputs – number of successful participants – and immediate outcomes – an improvement in the delivery of services to the public within the areas of your responsibility. Together let us be the change we wish to see!

I thank you.