Citing its aim to reform public finance management in The Bahamas, the Government tabled a suite of new legislation in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, February 10th, 2021, meant to allow new levels of transparency and accountability.
The Most Honourable Prime Minister Hubert A. Minnis presented the Public Debt Management Bill, 2021, the Public Finance Management Bill, 2021 (PFM); the Statistics Bill, 2021 and the Public Procurement Bill, 2020 that was first read in the House of Assembly last year.
“Legislative reform doesn’t often seem revolutionary, but we don’t want Bahamians to miss the monumental changes these bills will bring about. For the Public Finance Management Bill, there will be criminal penalties imposed for the first time for financial malfeasance in the public sector. Everyone will be held to a higher standard. New financial reporting requirements, like monthly budget reports, will be introduced to government for the first time,” said Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Finance.
“Bahamians may have assumed these things were in place, but the truth is, the Financial Administration and Audit Act, 2010 (FAA Act), which we are now replacing, had many weaknesses and was terribly outdated,” said Minister Thompson.
The PFM Bill transitions to a principles-based approach to public financial management thereby focusing on results, rather than taking an administrative approach, as was the case with the FAA. This Bill requires outcomes-based budgeting and reporting to support a comprehensive management of the budget.
“Again, this is very significant as it will require cultural changes within our ministries and agencies. Ministries are not only responsible for spending and accounting for budgeted resources. They will now be responsible for tracking and reporting the impact of their spending; the impact of their programs. Are they using public funds in a way that deliver the desired and intended results? These are monumental shifts we are ushering in with our legislative forms,” said Minister Thompson.