As Government workers continue to ponder whether they could be among the next set of workers to go on the breadline Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has finally put a figure to the number of workers sent home so far.
“From the figures I have seen, anywhere between 2 500 and 2 800, but don’t hold me to any specific figures –– but in that range,” the minister said yesterday.
Back in December last year, in his Ministerial Statement, he had announced that 3 000 would have been going home and at the end of February this year, the International Monetary Fund had announced that 1 800 had so far gone.
“There are some other departments that have taken the opportunity to do efficiency restructures that may not have been captured in the original number,” Sinckler told the media as he treated close to 400 seniors citizens from his St Michael North-West constituency to the annual scenic ride and luncheon that climaxed at the King George V Memorial Park in St Philip.
Though unable to say exactly when the programme would end, the minister was at pains to point out that, contrary to the suggestions of some, the exercise was not a “witch-hunt”, with persons being sent home at the slightest opportunity.
He said that there would have to be “very good reason why you are dong it [and] you have to show that you are not debilitating the service to members of the public”.
“You have to show that you are going to get efficiencies from it. It makes no sense sending people home if you are going to be worse. It makes no sense cutting your wages bill by $20 million and increasing your goods and services [bill] by $25 million. You are back at square one. So you want there to be a situation where it has to have meaning and it is a last resort,” Sinckler said.
“Originally we had contemplated that about 250 persons may have had to been sent home from the Barbados Water Authority. The union and the Barbados Water Authority management and board worked out a situation where they were able to get close to $17 million in savings.”
In this regard, he also revealed Government was on track with its fiscal consolidation programme, having taken a decision with the 2013-2014 Estimates to have its outstanding commitments brought to book, a move that has, in part, proven successful.
“We went to Parliament, we got approval through supplementaries to pay those down. Now we’ve had a situation where, of course, because of cash flow problems we can’t as consistently make those payments as we would like, but we are working on them to bring them down . . . but they have been brought to book.”
“What we want to do outside of that now is to ensure for [fiscal year 2014-2015] we stay on track and I think, reasonably, we are on track. In terms of our expenditure cuts, we definitely are on track. The “X” factor is always
the revenue because you don’t know how that is going to perform,” the minister added.