As many as 2,500 public workers will be jobless when the dust settles on the Government’s restructuring exercise, the Barbados-born International Monetary Fund economist embedded as the Government’s senior economic advisor has announced.
The figure of 1,500 announced by the Prime Minister on Monday is only the start, Dr Kevin Greenidge told journalists at the Central Bank in an update on the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) plan.
And he’s hinted that those who are sent home will be among the first to be tapped for a massive scheme to digitize mountains of paper in the Government in the first steps towards creating e-government in which services and payments will be accessible via smartphone and computer.
The first batch involves central government workers, mostly temporary employees in those Government departments and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that are easier to restructure, Dr Greenidge suggested.
But additional retrenchments amounting to no more than 1,000, would be next in line in what the economist described as larger and more complex entities – the Transport Board, the Barbados Water Authority and the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) among them.
“The 1,500 mentioned . . . of course, the Central Government will send about 800 . . . .
The remainder will come from the SOEs for the restructuring for the remainder of this fiscal year. But I also mentioned that we got to do some “heavy lifting” which can’t be done this year,” said the senior economic advisor.
He referred to a recent online survey of 5,000 users that identified out of 93 state-owned enterprises and government agencies which ones are deemed essential, highly desirable, optional and optional but delivered elsewhere.
“And that gives a sense of those institutions that we can tackle in this fiscal year…the Caves [of Barbados], KOMI [Kensington Oval Management Inc] . . . those that we think we are going to get efficiency right away. And then there are some that we all know, we don’t have to do any survey . . . if you have to restructure [them], you would have to do some heavy lifting. Transport Board, [Barbados] Water Authority, BADMC. You can’t do them in one [this year]. So they must go over to the next fiscal year . . . to modernize and bring them up to speed,” Dr Greenidge told reporters.
“So that the 1,500 . . . of course, the 800, we have already started to cover, but the remainder now will come when we start when we deal with those that we can, and they are online. So when you start to deal with Transport Board and Water Authority over the next fiscal year too, [it] is heavy lifting. You have to address all; it makes no sense stopping,” he argued.
But the IMF economist was quick to add that with the job cuts will also come reemployment in the next fiscal year of those who were retrenched in the first place.
He assured that with the full digitalization of Central Government starting early next year, most of the 800 being retrenched from Central Government would be reemployed.
“Those persons would also be getting – we discussed this with the Social Partnership – a form with options before they do . . .what you want to do, here are the options that are available . . . . The digitalization project we hope to start by the beginning of next year, most of those persons will be back in, and that is financed by IDB [Inter American Development Bank]. Those persons would also be trained in areas to help them provide services long after that [digital] project is over,” he stated.
Dr Greenidge said job opportunities which would become available through the training include medical transcription, medical coding and legal transcription.