Another 17 public bodies are being rationalised under the Public Sector Transformation Programme which, when completed, will reduce the number of public bodies in Jamaica by 30 per cent.
Some of these, which are at various stages of completion, include the integration of the Legal Aid Council into the Ministry of Justice; the merger of the Consumer Affairs Commission and the Fair Trading Commission; and the integration of the National Council on Education into the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
Executive Director of the Transformation Implementation Unit (TIU), Maria Thompson Walters says that the rationalisation of public bodies is critical in reducing the governance deficit in the country and freeing up resources for priority areas. She explained that most of these public bodies are funded by the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) and were established with good intentions such as reducing red tape in the public sector but that many of them have achieved their mandates or the circumstances have changed significantly for the provision of the particular service.
“Let’s take the case of the National Family Planning Board with an original mandate of managing population growth. The current realities indicate that the population growth has slowed even below the target originally set by the Family Planning Board. The entity has broadened its functions and there is still the need for the monitoring of population growth but to a lesser extent, and so the entity is to be closed and its functions integrated into the Ministry of Health and Wellness,” Ms Thompson Walters said.
Ms Thompson Walters adds that “each public body requires its own board, chief executive officer, support functions and staff which have to be funded and so many of the rationalisation actions such as mergers, closures and integration into parent ministries will yield a reduction in the operational costs and the number of public bodies.
Having few public bodies also means that the ability to provide oversight is greater than when we have a multiplicity
of public entities which cannot be governed effectively.”
Ms Thompson Walters noted that as a result of the rationalisation on public bodies the GOJ has saved over J$1 billion as at September 2020 and this figure is likely to increase as more actions are completed.
Since the commencement of the rationalisation of public bodies project, 40 entities have been either closed,
merged or integrated into parent ministries.