If the Prime Minister had surrounded herself with visionary advisors, one of her chief critics has contended, there would be no need for the pending public sector job cuts at end of this month.
The head of the political party, Solutions Barbados Grenville Phillips II, has accused Government of “poor management” in the announcement on Sunday night that mostly temporary workers totalling no more than 1,500 people across the civil service, are to be laid off.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister said: “We give the country the assurance that while we do not have the exact number because we are following process, rather than arithmetical deductions; we know that it is unlikely to be more than 1,500 people over the course of the next few weeks. But, regrettably, one is too many”.
But in an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning, Phillips argued that given the volume of work required to modernise the civil service, Government simply needed to repurpose those earmarked for the breadline in order to eliminate redundancies and overlaps in the service.
“I don’t think that this is the way to go because even if austerity is necessary, which means that you are going to increase taxes on people and increase user fees, to send home the very people that would be doing this work is not the way to go. If you think you have too much people, a good manager would find work for these excess people to do not lay them off. This is just poor management,” said Phillips, who placed all of the blame at the feet of the Prime Minister’s economic advisors.
He charged that Government was essentially reaching for low-hanging fruit, a strategy that is employed by successive administrations whenever the country would go through periods of economic hardship.
“If these persons are out of ideas then they should ask someone. It is simply appalling. I have a lot of sympathy for the Prime Minister but I think she is being very badly advised and she could only accept the advice that she has available to her. [Mottley] promised that she would allow all ideas to contend but why is she only listening to those who support austerity is a mystery,” Phillips argued.
In her address to the nation, Mottley disclosed that the affected workers would be given priority when the Government rolls out a project to digitize its vast trove of records in January, among other tasks.
“We are in discussion with the international financial community to finance the project
. . . . With respect to those who will be laid off from the Ministry of Public Works, equally we have recognized that those who are participating in Government’s $100 million road programme will need to be able to hire persons within the next few months to be able to participate in that . . . activity, which will last us for the next few years,” she said.
But the Solutions Barbados leader questioned if the modernization process stops at the digitization effort, suggesting that the task ahead to better streamline the public service required the current complement of workers.
In the face of Government’s need to cut spending in keeping with an economic recovery programme approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Phillips contended that savings realized from weeding out corruption and wastage would be more than enough to pay workers.
“We need to increase revenue by growing the economy and that is why we said we would reduce taxes so that there is more money to spend,” Phillips said, referring to his party’s campaign plank for the May 24 general election.
“We need to also eliminate corruption meaningfully and not just talk about it, thereby properly managing the public service,” he argued.