by Shawn Cumberbatch
Questions are being raised about the effectiveness of Government’s new public sector jobs freeze.
In his August 13 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced “a total freeze on all new hiring in the central public service and across all statutory entities” to take effect “immediately”. But reports indicate that in the wake of that policy statement several posts in the public sector, some of them temporary, are still being advertised.
In recent days Barbados TODAY was able to confirm the transmittal of circulars in the civil service inviting applications for at least 10 public sector jobs. The correspondence was sent by the Personnel Administration Division and Chief Personnel Officer.
And while a government official said it was likely filling these jobs “was in train prior to the Budget” and would not have been done “off the cuff”, a concerned civil servant pointed out that if the hiring proceeded it meant government would have to pay an additional $614,000 in annual salary at a time it was asking everyone to hold strain. Civil service posts for which applications are being invited included:
* Principal Environmental Health Officer ($71,025 per annum).
* Senior Tutor, Ministry of Health ($71,025 per annum).
* Senior School Meals Officer, School Meals Department, Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation ($68,510 per annum).
* Temporary HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development ($68,510 per annum).
* Temporary Registration Officer, Land Registry Department, Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development ($68,510 per annum).
* Psychiatric Social Worker 1/11, Ministry of Health ($58,585 per annum).
* Senior Dispenser/Pharmacist 1, Ministry of Health ($58,585 per annum).
* Temporary Surveillance Officer, Ministry of Health ($58,585 per annum).
* Assistant Property Manager, Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development ($50,886 per annum).
* Head Butler, Governor General’s Department ($39,639 per annum).
In several instances applications for these jobs and others are open until next month, while some will close this month. Personnel officials reminded those applying for the temporary jobs that “the appointment is temporary and is subject to termination by at last one month’s notice on either side”.
Government’s stated policy to suspend new recruitment in the public sector was based on its fiscal consolidation plan aimed at reducing millions of dollars in expenditure, including sums spent on salaries and other forms of remuneration.
Giving the rationale, Sinckler said government “determined that in order for these expenditure targets to be achieved and maintained the following must be strictly adhered to, and as such a zero tolerance approach will be adopted in relation to them”.
He then said that “effective immediately there will be a total freeze on all new hiring in the central public service and across all statutory entities”.
“Deviation from this policy will only be countenanced in cases of extreme criticalness and will have to be approved by the Prime Minister and Minister of Civil Service before execution,” the minister added.
He said this policy “will also extend to the hiring of substitutes, temporary and/or casual workers as replacements for appointed staff proceeding on leave”, and warned that “departments and boards who breach this policy will not receive any resources to cover the salaries of these persons if they cannot be accounted for in the system”.
This was in addition to “an immediate freeze of all non-critical established posts which have not be filled in the last six months and are unlikely to be filled in the near term”.
“Government has been careful to design these expenditure adjustments in such a manner as to limit the potential for major job losses in the public service, through instructing line ministries and statutory entities to use retrenchment as a last resort, while preferring to institute creative programmes for work hours/days/week reductions among staff,” Sinckler said in his Budget.
“The Ministry of the Civil Service and the Ministry of Finance will assume general oversight of the implementation of this aspect of the measures so as to ensure that the targets are achieved while adherence to the preferred approach outlined by government is maintained.”
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