Despite calls by the umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations for Government to push back the July 1 transition of employees of the Government’s Customs & Excise Department (CED) into the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA), Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says the move is still on.
Speaking to reporters at the weekend, he made it clear that “when all is said and done, there is going to be a Barbados Revenue Authority and the Customs Department is going to be a part of it”.
However, he acknowledged that people would necessarily have questions about the move, pointing out that it was the responsibility of the Government and the BRA officials to answer those questions.
Following is the text of an internal BRA report, which has been obtained by Barbados TODAY, which both asks and answers a number of frequently asked questions about the changeover process.
1. Who will transition to the BRA?
Officers currently appointed at the CED will be transitioned to the BRA on secondment for a period of up to two years as long as there are no adverse reports on the officers. Officers will be offered a position similar to their substantive position. In the case of persons acting, they will be offered a position at the acting level as long as the substantive holder of the post does not accept an offer to transition to the BRA.
If an officer is acting in a position outside the CED and does not want to transition to the BRA, the position at the BRA will be offered to the person acting at the CED. It should however be noted that this is only possible in general service posts.
Temporary officers who were working for three years at December 2007 will be treated as though they were appointed, and will be offered a one year contract during which time we will seek to confirm them. If they are not confirmed in the first group due to adverse reports then they are given an additional six months to improve. If there is no improvement they will not be confirmed and will be terminated.
2. How will the temporary officers be treated?
All temporary officers who are offered a position with the BRA will be given a one-year contract and be reviewed for confirmation at the end of the first year. If not confirmed at the end of the first year due to adverse report an additional six months is given to improve. If no improvement the individual will not be given confirmation and will be terminated.
3. It is now 2015, will officers who were not appointed but have been in the organisation for more than a year be appointed?
Temporary officers will be made offers as long as positions are vacant. This will be done on a last in first out basis to the public service and will follow the 31 December 2007 appointment date as set out in the legislation.
4. How many officers will be transitioned to the BRA?
The BRA is seeking a staff complement of 279 compared to the current positions based on the March 2015 paysheet of the Central Government.
5. Will persons who are acting come over in their acting position?
Yes, as long as the substantive holder of the posts does not accept an offer or indicates they do not want to be considered in the transition process or the position is vacant.
6. Will working hours change?
Working hours will be in accordance with the hours of the BRA which fall between 7:15am to 5:00pm.
7. Will allowances still be paid?
8. If you do not accept secondment or a contract what will happen?
Persons who do not accept positions with the BRA and are appointed will be dealt with by the Personnel Administration Dept.
9. How will the CED be structured under the BRA
The CED will become a Division under the BRA called the External Taxes and Border Control Division. It will be headed by a Director who reports to the Revenue Commissioner. The Director is supported by a Senior Manager and three Managers.
10. Are the salaries of the BRA the same as for the public service?
The salaries of the BRA are similar to those of the central government though not exactly the same. Similar positions are however in line with the central government. Persons who transition to the BRA will however not be paid less than what they are currently receiving.
11. Will persons still receive their increments?
Yes persons will retain their incremental dates as long as they come over in a position similar to their substantive position. If they come over in a new position then they will receive the increment to suit the new position which they are in. If they come over in a new position at a higher scale and the scale is a fixed scale, then the increments will not continue.
12. Will persons who transition to the BRA retain their terms and conditions of service?
Yes they will. This is stated in Section (10). This is also outlined in the BRA Terms and Conditions of Service which accompany the option letters.
13. What will happen to vacation leave not yet taken?
All leave will be brought forward to the BRA and carried forward similar to the public service.
14. Who will pay the pension of officers who join the BRA?
This will be treated as a mixed pension which is calculated and paid by the Treasury and the BRA reimburses the Treasury for its portion. For persons who are not yet vested, that is, they have not worked for ten continuous years in the public service they will be part of the BRA’s pension plan and their years will count towards the total number of years worked if greater than three.
15. When will option letters be given out and how long will persons have to decide to accept or reject an offer?
We are awaiting the approved positions from the MCS so that the letters can be prepared. This is estimated to happen sometime in the middle of May. Persons will be given two weeks in which to respond to the option letter. Transition date is July 1, 2015.
16. How will letters be distributed?
The HR Manager and staff of the BRA will visit the department to distribute letters to each officer.