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Fewer Public Bodies Equals Better Governance

Fewer Public Bodies Equals Better Governance

On the cusp of Jamaica’s independence in the early 1960s, the country had as few as 20 public bodies.  Since then, the island has experienced a significant increase in the number of public entities, hitting a peak of approximately 190 public entities in 2017. While these public bodies were created with the intent of improving service delivery, an almost 950% increase in government entities has led to a notably cumbersome public sector.

Today, the public sector has a proliferation of overlapping functions of ministries, departments and agencies, leading to duplication and the prolonged existence of entities that have long fulfilled their mandates. The result is a maze of a poor governance structure that has contributed to significant gaps in service delivery.

Under the Rationalisation of Public Bodies project, the country will benefit from a reduction in the number of public bodies through mergers, closures, divestment and the integration of these entities into their parent ministries. These actions will significantly improve the management and governance of public bodies.

In comparison to other similar countries in size and population, Jamaica has almost triple the number of public bodies in those countries. Singapore for example, has a population of approximately 5.61 million people, but has as little as 60 public bodies. This leaner operational model allows Singapore to practice more effective governance, reallocate public spending to other critical areas like education, improving IT infrastructure, transportation and health.

As Jamaica attempts to modernise and transform the public sector, the rationalisation of public bodies will open the door for a more streamlined governance framework. This will greatly improve accountability, transparency and the delivery of services in the public sector. Even more, a reduction in public bodies will lead to a reduction in operational costs and the curtailment of unnecessary bureaucracy. This frees up resources for the Government of Jamaica to inject well-needed funding into more critical areas such as education, health and security.

Since the start of the rationalisation project, there has been over $1billion dollars generated in savings and a number of actions successfully undertaken.

– Closed 10 entities

– Merged 14 entities

– Merged the back-office operations of four entities

– Integrated three entities into portfolio Ministries

“The practice of creating dozens of additional public bodies without the certain means to sustainably fund them is not economically viable and robs the country of much-needed resources for higher priority activities,” Dr Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and the Public Service.

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