Public Sector Investment Programme: T&T’s ‘game changing’ app

As a citizen of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago one has seen houses, schools, stadia, hospitals and highways being built to increase the quality of life. Over the years billions of public funds have been invested into the growing needs of the people through the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP). The PSIP visualizes the Government’s aspirations and strategies and translates humanitarian needs to tangible projects that positively impact the lives of people on a daily basis.

Although Trinidad and Tobago continues to navigate through the challenging economic circumstance which has resulted from a significant decline in revenues primarily due to the low commodity prices in the energy sector. To mitigate these risks requires structural transformation to diversify the economy and improve its growth potential to boost competitiveness and lay the foundation for sustainable growth. In so doing, Government has maintained its allocation to the PSIP of $5,100 million for fiscal year 2018, in keeping with the 2017 allocation. The 2019 PSIP will get an increased capital injection to $100.0 million.

It is the goal of the Government through the PSIP to have developmental projects that impact and facilitate sustainable growth.  The city of Port of Spain’s skyline has transformed over the years; where towers have emerged such as the Eric Williams Financial Towers, Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre and the Hyatt Regency Trinidad. The International Waterfront Complex have also added increased business activity and tourism to the Port of Spain Waterfront as it overlooks another development project, the Brian Lara Promenade. 

Business tourism has not been the only focal point but recreational needs of the people have also been foremost. The development of the Chaguaramas coastal landscape has become a recreational hub via the Boardwalk and the upgrade of tourist destinations and environmental regenerative projects have also been the focus.  Whilst the Arts have inherited modern performing facilities both in the south and North, SAPA and NAPA respectfully and in the sister isle of Tobago, the Shaw Park Cultural Complex. The Scarborough waterfront has also had upgrades via the Esplanade. 

One of the nation’s greatest assets its youth, have also felt the effects of successful  PSIP projects, through increased access to education with the numerous Early Childhood Centres, primary and secondary schools being built in existing and growing communities. The list of development projects can become exhausting if one were to list the many facilities and projects undertaken by the Ministries of Sport, Health, Utilities, Agriculture Land and Fisheries, Works and Transport as well as Social Development.  

So what exactly is the PSIP? And how has the country been able to fit these growing developmental demands?

The Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) is a budgeting and strategic planning tool employed by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to translate its vision and policies into tangible projects and programmes. These projects and programmes are designed to realise the goals set out in Government’s overarching National Development Strategy (NDS). Currently the PSIP is aligned to the Draft National Development Strategy (NDS) 2016 - 2030 (NDS: Vision 2030) which is ultimately geared towards improving the quality of life for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

The PSIP plays a pivotal role in building Trinidad and Tobago’s economy by creating the infrastructural and socio-economic frameworks that promote sustainable development. Budgeting which is aligned to national priorities provides a transparent platform for the efficient allocation of resources while maintaining the principles of accountability, transparency, good governance and environmental sustainability.

As mentioned, the sum of $5,100 million was provided in fiscal 2018. The allocation of $5,100 million has been maintained for programmes and projects to be executed in fiscal 2018 comprising $2,424.7 (47.5%) under the Consolidated Fund and $2,675.3 million (52.5%) under the Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF). In fiscal 2019, the PSIP will benefit from an increased capital injection of $100.0 million to a budgeted allocation of $5,200 when compared to fiscal 2018 budgeted allocation of $5,100 million. The sum of $2,792.5 will go to the IDF (53.7 percent) whilst the remaining $2,407.5 will comprise the Consolidated Fund (46.3 percent).

Critical to the achievement of the NDS: Vision 2030 strategy is the alignment of the PSIP to its goals and strategies. This alignment reflects a realisation and acceptance of the need for institutional, environmental, cultural and economic changes required over the planning horizon.

As the government continues to place Trinidad and Tobago on a path towards sustainable socio-economic advancement, cabinet approved project plans are developed reflective of the NDS: Vision 2030 five thematic areas: 

        I.            Putting People First: Nurturing Our Greatest Asset;

      II.            Delivering Good Governance and Service Excellence:

    III.            Improving Productivity through Quality Infrastructure and Transportation

    IV.            Building Globally Competitive Businesses:

      V.            Placing the Environment at the Centre of Social and Economic Development:

Ministries and Departments will develop and execute projects to be recommended by The Ministry of Planning and Development for funding to the Ministry of Finance.

So what lies ahead for the PSIP?

In fiscal 2019, a more informed allocation system will be adopted for all projects/programmes to ensure that limited resources are utilized more effectively and efficiently in order to deliver the greatest benefits to the citizens. The new approach will require stricter adherence to the requirements of the Call Circular and the accompanying Project Screening Brief (PSB). The PSB is a guide to the sequential ordering of the steps required for the development of projects for inclusion in the PSIP.

To facilitate stronger Project Screening Briefs the Ministry of Planning and Development through the Public Planning Reconstruction Division (PPRD) made a bold step towards this paradigm change.  The PPRD in collaboration with Socio-Economic Policy Planning Unit (SEPP) and the National Transformation Unit (NTU) trained 60 technical officers at the Global Services Promotional Programme Hub in Tamana. The two (2) day training workshop on Procedures for Project Planning aimed at strengthening the capacity of officers responsible for preparing PSBs and managing PSIP projects. Some key workshop areas were, budget cycles, preparation of estimates and preparing a strong project screening brief.  The buzz words for the workshop were effective reporting, monitoring and evaluation and effective communication.  The outcome of this training is expected to yield stronger projects that are not duplicated and are completed within project periods while satisfying the needs of a greater cross-sector of society. 

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