Relevance of the Commonwealth Secretariats Debt Recording and Management Software (CS-DRMS) is increasingly gaining attention beyond member nations, as reported by REMMY NWEKE.
It was equally in the news that the CS-DRMS has its net across 56 countries globally, out of which, 44 are Commonwealth nations including some ‘dependent islands’ and
Countries and some dependent islands within Commonwealth using the software are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji Islands, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tonga, United Republic of Tanzania and Vanuatu.
Although the application of CS-DRMS is offered to all Commonwealth members as part of an integrated capacity building programme in debt management, it also includes training and advisory services, as said by the secretariat.
Presently CS-DRMS is available in English and French, enabling countries where it has been installed to enhance their tracking of debt, review options for restructuring, evaluate sources of borrowings and planning new loans.
In this way, assisting finance ministers and Central Bank governors in managing their nation’s debt more effectively, according to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr. Don McKinnon.
He also pointed out that the software developed in 1980s due to avalanche of debt crisis then, which rocked
Additionally, CS-DRMS, he said, records and manages different types of debt - domestic or external, short, medium and long-term. Even as it offers links to tools used for debt sustainability analysis, such as the World Bank’s Debt Sustainability model plus.
In his address to the two decade’s anniversary in London earlier this month, Mr. McKinnon said that CS-DRMS has become a tool that could help end poverty by means of better management of scarce resources, just as the “donor community is more likely to further assist countries who are able to track and demonstrate debt position very accurately”.
CS-DRMS, he noted, is a good example of partnership that works both within and outside the secretariat. Stressing its success led to the translation into French and implementation in 11 countries outside the Commonwealth, amidst 14 heavily indebted poor nations currently using the software.
Some of the non-member countries deploying this application include
For the Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Ms. Kshenuka Senewiratne, who was a special guest at the anniversary, her country’s Ministry of Finance was able to calculate effectively the nation’s overall debt servicing commitments for the year, saying, “… It’s a clear demonstration of the pragmatic contribution the secretariat has made towards increasing public sector efficiency and effectiveness.”
Also for the Executive Director of Crown Agents, distributor of the solution, Mr. David Phillips, "Countries which use the CS-DRMS have one of the most powerful reporting and analytical tools to help them ensure that the proceeds of loans and grants do what they are supposed to.
“That is to transform financial flows into real development needs and to prevent the portfolio from becoming unsustainable within the limits of factors they could control directly," he affirmed.
With the recent deal to continue the distribution signed by Mr. Phillips and the Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Winston Cox, the Crown Agent chief said, CS-DRMS is an important component of his company's suite of software for public financial management, which helps countries to improve their budget financing by increasing customs and tax receipts, creating more flexibility in filling the financing gap with loans and grants.
The objectives of setting up DMO, according to its Director-General, Mr. Akin Arikawe, consist of maintaining a comprehensive inventory of loans together with forecast of debt service, provision of timely and accurate information on the country's debt to assist policy makers and publishing up-to-date debt statistics so as to improve transparency in debt management.
Other objectives were to effect debt service payments accurately and on time while managing the country's debt portfolio in order to minimize cost with an acceptable risk profile, conducting risk analysis and developing appropriate risk management policies, debt sustainability analysis to assess optimal borrowing levels, assessing lending terms from various sources and negotiating best possible terms for future borrowing, and helping to inform and craft the debt management strategy with appropriate linkage to fiscal and monetary policies and overall macroeconomic management.
It was gathered that the harmonization of debt management activities under DMO and usage of CS-DRMS was instrumental to the $18 billion debt relief granted
Since the impacts of CS-DRMS are obvious, it is vital that Commonwealth nations who are not yet deploying this software should make haste while the sun shines, thereby not waiting until they are highly indebted recently.
Mostly, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) should take advantage and heed the call to drastically reduce debt burden via concentrated management, in order to pave the way for poverty reduction and economic renaissance.