August 31, 2017
Marlon Johnson, the former Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) marketing executive, was yesterday confirmed as The Bahamas' new financial secretary.
Johnson will replace Simon Wilson, whose last day on the job is today.
The Nassau Guardian understands that Wilson is being sent to the Central Bank, but it was unclear what position he will take up.
Former Financial Secretary John Rolle is currently governor of the Central Bank.
Johnson, whose most recent post was chief of sales and marketing officer for Belize Telemedia Ltd., starts his new job tomorrow.
It is understood that Johnson met with senior government officials yesterday.
Earlier in the day, he posted to his Facebook page that he was headed to a morning meeting. Hours later, he posted: "Filling out an application form for employment right now", although he provided no details.
Johnson's new post will come exactly three years after he left BTC.
He has some experience in the Ministry of Finance and has a master's degree in public administration with a concentration in public sector finance.
As The Guardian reported last week, Wilson's departure comes at a time when the government is seeking to tighten controls of the country's finances and improve tax collections.
With debt levels rising, the government is cutting back spending, recently announcing a 10 percent budget cut for its ministries and departments.
All of that was in an effort to avoid another downgrade. Last Friday, Moody's reaffirmed The Bahamas' Baa3 rating, but changed the outlook from stable to negative, signaling that the country is far from out of the woods.
As financial secretary, Johnson's role will be critical in the government's efforts to improve its fiscal position.
In this role, he will be the chief financial officer of the government of The Bahamas, administering the Ministry of Finance in a technical capacity.
This role requires more than the general administrative leadership skills of a permanent secretary.
It requires that the individual has a technical understanding of finance, of government accounting and economics.
Johnson will now be the principal advisor to the minister of finance in respect of government financial matters.
He will be mandated to ensure that the government's systems operate in accordance with the Financial Administration and Audit Act and the relevant provisions of the constitution, and that the revenue and spending systems and internal auditing functions are working as they ought.
A source familiar with these matters said yesterday that Johnson, while previously employed by the Ministry of Finance, was being groomed for the position for years.
He had been identified and put on that track for developing capacity in the area.
Johnson will need to get up to speed with the nuances of the Ministry of Finance, as he has been gone a while, the source observed, but expressed confidence in Johnson's ability to perform the job effectively.
Since Johnson left Finance, value-added tax (VAT) has been introduced, with Wilson playing a key role in the roll out of the new regime.
The introduction of VAT proved controversial and the Christie administration's handling of over $1 billion in VAT collections became a major issue in the 2017 election campaign.
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News date : 08/31/2017 Category : Nassau Guardian Stories