Participants at the Commonwealth/Ministry of Finance 10-day Workshop??on Developing a Public Debt Statistical Bulletin being held at Accra Beach Resort.??

Public officers from throughout the region are being better equipped to compile and use debt information.

This was underscored by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, William Layne, at the opening of a 10-day workshop on "Developing a Public Debt Statistical Bulletin". It was sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and is being held at the Accra Beach Resort.

Mr. Layne said that the international financial crisis had served to underscore the importance of maintaining reliable and timely information on the debt of a country. He added that this was important in the area of external debt, where timely and accurate debt information could serve as an early warning of a country’s vulnerability to external forces.


Advisor (Debt Management) with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Walton Gilpin (at podium) addressing the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth/Ministry of Finance 10-day Workshop??on Developing a Public Debt Statistical Bulletin being held at Accra Beach Resort. Accountant General Margaret Sivers-Carter is also pictured at left.

"Improving the quality of key external debt data and promoting convergence of recording practices is, therefore, of vital importance to us here in the Caribbean. Debt managers should, therefore, develop, maintain and forge good practices in the compilation and dissemination of debt statistics, since these can and will provide an indication of how effectively debt offices carry out their functions.

"Comprehensive and timely data allows the debt office to monitor the evolution of a country’s external and domestic liabilities and also its debt-servicing obligations over time. It can provide early warnings of possible debt servicing problems; facilitate policy mandates and allow snapshots of the balance of payments, which is very important to macroeconomic forecasting," Mr. Layne pointed out.

The Permanent Secretary explained that the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other key lending agencies depended on statistics to monitor and measure debt in their analysis of the needs of low and middle income countries. He maintained that these statistics also gave an insight into the economic health of the global economy.

Mr. Layne encouraged the participants to continue to encourage quality coverage and timeliness of such data and always be cognisant of the far-reaching effects that debt statistics could have on a country’s credit worthiness.

Meanwhile, Advisor on Debt Management at the Commonwealth Secretariat Walton Gilpin, said countries should be consistently working on developing debt reports according to best international practice, best methodologies, classifications and definitional approach to collecting data.

He underlined that statistics on debt were important for a "wide range of economic reasons, because it helps us to better measure vulnerability to shocks… [and] to assess the constraints and fiscal policy, and helps us to determine the government’s level of liquidity. ..We must not let debt run away."

The workshop was the first in a series for the region and was organised to equip debt managers with a set of skills to better produce a public debt statistical bulletin. It attracted 45 participants from 14 countries and concludes on June 30.

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