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SVG signs financing agreement

SVG signs financing agreement

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THE Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has ramped up its efforts to promote efficiency, quality and transparency in the public service through an initiative coordinated by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat and funded by the International Development Association (IDA),{{more}} a specialized arm of the World Bank. IDA’s primary operation is to provide grants and interest-free loans to developing countries to fund projects aimed at boosting economic growth and improving living as a means of assisting developing countries to attain their development goals.

At a signing ceremony held at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., H.E. La Celia Prince, Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United States of America, signed the Financing Agreement documents on behalf of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Agreement will finance the OECS E-Government for Regional Integration Project and is for a total sum of US $2.3 million.

The OECS E-Government programme is a direct response to the developmental challenges which countries like St. Vincent and the Grenadines face on account of their small size and vulnerability to external shocks. With the loss of trade preferences, the unreliability of traditional markets and the knock-on effects of the global financial crisis, small vulnerable economies find that they have to up the ante in order to improve their competitiveness. As a response, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has determined that an essential element in developing a modern, competitive, post-colonial economy is the improvement of the public sector, enhancing its efficiency and the delivery of its services. The World Bank endorses this view, noting in a recent report that in the OECS countries, “public sector modernization is key to improving efficiency and competitiveness in the region”. The report further states that if it is to reduce costs and improve efficiency, the public sector must become more concerned with the cost-effectiveness, quality, and timeliness of outputs.

Not only will the OECS E-Government project allow for better public service delivery in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but it will fulfil the central objective of enhancing OECS integration. The Agreement provides for the implementation of a public sector strategy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines which will focus on improving the delivery of public sector services; improving internal efficiency (including lowering costs of public service delivery); improving coordination between Government agencies; and increasing transparency through the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) with the overall objective of contributing to regional integration. These goals will be attained through the creation of a framework for regional E-government cooperation activities. Elements of the overall framework include the OECS-wide harmonization of the legal and regulatory frameworks for electronic transactions; optimization of ICT use and management within the public sector, as well as lowering ICT costs by pooling the procurement of software licenses with other OECS countries.

The implementation of the project will begin in the first quarter of 2010 and is expected to be fully operational by August 2013.