Economic development and the fight against poverty can only effectively be enhanced under an environment of good governance and transparent management of public finances, Gambia’s Central Bank Governor has told West African financial and economic professionals.
“The centre piece of good governance in public resource management is transparency and accountability,” Governor Amadou Colley said on Monday at the commencement of a two-week regional course on public financial management: budgeting, planning and performance organised by the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM).
|Cross section of participants|
He told the course participants, drawn from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia, that the central element of transparency in the management of public resources is the question of the rules of engagement relating to the bid process for public contracts.
“These should be clearly defined and publicised for the information of all interested parties,” he said.
However, Hon. Colley noted with pride that a good number of countries in the sub-region have embarked on this path by enacting a Public Procurement Act to provide a clear framework.
Also, many of the countries, the CBG Governor said, have adopted Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSPs) as part of their fight against poverty. These explicitly provide a result-oriented approach to strategic planning and policymaking, by formulating a clear framework of policy goals and targets.
Poverty reduction, however, is not merely a question of spending more, but also of using existing resources more effectively. This is achieved through effective public financial management (PFM) systems, which ensure accountability and efficiency in the management of public resources.
In this vein, Governor Colley said public financial management will continue to play a critical role in contributing to economic stability, nation-building, growth, and poverty reduction in member states’ economies.
The key elements of transparency in managing public resources pertain to effective accounting and internal auditing standards to ensure accountability and probity in the use of public resources, said WAIFEM Director General Prof. Akpan H. Ekpo.
The regional course on PFM covers a number of topics such as planning, budgeting and financial management in the public sector, fiscal performance and fiscal rules, fiscal policy and economic growth, monitoring and evaluation of needs, good governance, accountability and transparency, economic appraisal of public capital projects, cost and benefits analysis, public accounting and budgeting, cash and accrual accounting, public expenditure programme, and hands on exercises.
These topics were especially designed to tackle the myriad of economic and financial challenges sub-regional countries, especially WAIFEM constituent member states, face in the public and financial management of their economies.
Notable among these challenges are paucity of information to facilitate budgeting, poor-integration of the public sector policy making, budgets overruns, non-involvement of communities or beneficiaries in member countries’ budget preparations, and poor budget implementation as well as inadequate monitoring of programmes after implementation.
WAIFEM was established by the Central Banks of The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone in 1996 principally to build capacity for improved macroeconomic and financial management in the constituent member countries. On January 19, 2012, the Central Bank of the Republic of Guinea Conakry was admitted into WAIFEM.
Although it concentrates on customised short-term training programmes, since 2001 the regional training body has shifted to a holistic and integrated approach to capacity building which goes beyond training alone to including organizational and institutional aspects.
At the end of 2010, WAIFEM successfully executed no fewer than 359 activities for the benefit of over 10,000 participants including ministers, governors of central banks, public and private sector officials, and the media.