Assembly supports better control of public money


The Public Finance Management Bill 2012 was presented for Assembly members’ approval by the Minister for Finance, Trade and Investment Pierre Laporte on Tuesday.

In his presentation, Minister Laporte said the new Bill is seeking to govern the management of public finance in the country.

“It aims to harmonise the different government budget procedures, improve efficiency, ensure budgetary discipline, better supervision, control, more transparency and responsibility in the way government spends public money,” said Minister Laporte.

He also informed the Assembly that the Bill is part of continuing effort to improve mechanisms for the preparation and implementation of the national budget.

“This forms part of our objective to continue improving our economy,” added Minister Laporte.
He noted that since 2008 a lot has been done to improve the way the national budget is prepared and presented but added that this should not prevent us from seeking better ways to continue improving the measures in place.

Under the Bill, it will be compulsory for the Minister of Finance, Trade and Investment each time he presents the annual budget, to present a macro-economic and fiscal plan which would guide the policy and economic direction the government envisages for the forthcoming three years.
This will aim at:

- making easier analysis of the state of our economy,
- clearly defining the way forward for the economy,
- helping businesses and the public in general to have a better idea of the economic perspective,
- helping investors have a better vision of Seychelles’ economic future  and boost their confidence.

The Bill also provides for the Finance, Trade and Investment Minister to present a semi-annual report on government revenue and expenditure to the National Assembly, allowing the institution to apprise of the government’s performance for the first half of the year without having to wait until the next budget presentation. 

Under the Bill, the government will have an obligation to explain details of any planned additional expenses to the general public and the National Assembly to seek its approval before these are made.

The Bill also provides for the Finance, Trade and Investment Minister to cut government expenses where necessary if the need arises for different reasons such as:
- if the economy is slowing down,
- if revenue being collected is less than what was projected.

Minister Laporte said this would help the government to stay in line with its objectives such as its targets for better sustainability of public debts.

In doing so, added the Minister, we will ensure that the budgetary management is in line with the global objective to maintain macro-economic stability and sustainability of our economy.

He further noted that the Bill covers all public agencies including parastatals.

A special provision in the Bill deals specifically with organisations’ efficiency and transparency aspects in the management of risks and internal control procedures.

Minister Laporte pointed out that presently internal control system management of risks in many government agencies needs to be improved and the Bill will seek to reinforce mechanisms to do just that.

Furthermore, under the Bill a chief executive who cannot conform to all the responsibilities as required, he or she has to inform the minister concerned and the President.
The Bill also provides for the Finance, Trade and Investment Ministry to report to the Assembly the performances of different ministries.

Minister Laporte announced that the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investment will soon launch an initiative called ‘Programme performance-based budgeting’ aimed at ensuring ministries put in place firm objectives to ensure efficiency and better management of their expenses.

“This initiative will help governmental and parastatal institutions maintain better quality budgetary performance given to the public,” said Minister Laporte.

He added that more details on the initiative will be announced nearer to its launch.
Minister Laporte explained that the Bill also gives power to the Minister of Finance, Trade and Investment to any time call for an audit of any ministry, government department, agency and public enterprise. 

Minister Laporte also announced a new measure aimed at reinforcing fiscal control to be carried out under regulations whereby all staff working in the finance section in ministries and government departments will fall under the Ministry of Finance.

He added that this will not apply to parastatals and other authorities such as the National Assembly, the auditor general, among others.

Minister Laporte said regulations to be announced soon will state clearly which organisations will be concerned by the measure.

The minister said the aim of such a measure is to ensure better supervision and control of public finance and harmonise other aspects such as training of all staff working in government finance sections.

Minister Laporte said the Bill shows the government’s commitment to continue improving transparency in the management of public finance.

“It reflects modern and international practices,” Minister Laporte said.
Meanwhile, Minister Laporte is calling on all government officers and agents to be more responsible in their role as guardians of the people’s finances.