Jamaica’s drive to achieve developed country status over the next decade will be a major challenge, further complicated by the struggle to protect businesses and livelihoods in the aftermath of a global health threat. Despite the setbacks caused by this crisis, the Government of Jamaica is in a better position to achieve its Vision 2030 development goals than ever before, thanks in part to the Public Sector Efficiency Programme (PSEP).
Launched in February 2014 and coordinated by the Cabinet Office, through the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Programme the PSEP supported a number of activities that strengthened the transparency and accountability framework of the Jamaican Government in key, sensitive areas.
This, and two subsequent articles, will highlight activities and reforms implemented under the PSEP, which, taken together, helped establish a stronger foundation for Jamaica’s national integrity system: the network of institutions, laws, regulations, and functions that ensure government operates transparently and in the best interest of the Jamaican people.
For government to operate in the people’s best interest, policies and legislation need to be made based on high quality, objective data and information. The fiscal impact of policies and laws, meanwhile, needs to be independently assessed, and government spending needs to be closely monitored. The Technical Research Support Unit (TRSU) and the Independent Fiscal Institution (IFI) were designed within the PSEP to achieve these important objectives.
The TRSU is to be established as a new unit within the Houses of Parliament on the recommendation of the minister of finance. It will provide unbiased, non-partisan research and analysis to parliamentarians on demand, and serve as a knowledge hub for lawmakers and parliamentary committees. This new unit will strengthen the ability of legislators to make evidence-based decisions on behalf of the Jamaican people and enable them to perform their oversight and scrutiny role more effectively.
The seeds for the creation of the TSRU were planted in a 2013 World Bank report, prepared at the request of the Jamaican Government, on parliamentary oversight of public finances. One of the recommendations of that study was the establishment of a Parliamentary Budget Office to expand public financial and fiscal management advice available to Parliament.