A series of consultations designed to explain the importance of pursuing public expenditure reviews (PERs) as part of the budget process was conducted recently in Belize with Government Chief Executive Officers, representatives from line Ministries and finance officers.
The consultations were facilitated by a team from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) subregional headquarters for the Caribbean, led by Deputy Director, Dr. Dillon Alleyne, along with Coordinator of the Economic Development Unit at ECLAC Caribbean, Sheldon McLean, and consultant, Professor Vanus James.
PERs are intended to align expenditures with government’s priorities. They also aim to provide savings, either from expenditure reallocation or by reducing unproductive expenditures. In addition, they improve fiscal management and can provide fiscal space especially when a country is experiencing high debt levels, which is the situation with several countries in the Caribbean.
In the Belize context, the sessions addressed these issues, including whether annual budgetary expenditure allocations reflect the policy priorities and desiredsocio-economic outcomes of the Government, as specified in its medium and long term plans.
The consultations followed a national training workshop held in Belize in July 2016, which benefitted public finance officers in various ministries, and a regional workshop on revenue and expenditure forecasting with a consideration of fiscal transparency issues, held in September 2016.
These efforts form part of an ECLAC Project, which aims at improving the capacity of public finance officials to address fiscal challenges. The latest consultations represent the third and final stage of the project. The project began in 2014, and is scheduled to be completed in December 2017.
Participating countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Guyana.The first phase of the project was a scoping exercise which assessed the skills and knowledge of public finance managers, and identified country-specific training needs. From this, a training manual was developed which was used to provide capacity building on the PER methodology during the second phase of the project.