The government has debunked reports that the hiring of contract workers has “ballooned” under its watch.
It said that figures coming from the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP) take into account the new functions the Ministry has taken on.
This is in the wake of a report which had quoted a 2016 budget review done by Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram. The review had stated that the number and salaries of contract employees had increased.
It noted that the MOTP had reported an increase in contract employees in 2015 from 298 to 505 in 2016. It also noted that the cost of wages and salaries had increased from $142M to $798M.
During yesterday’s post Cabinet press conference, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Raphael Trotman, described such a jump in numbers as “impossible.”
He noted that when Minister of State Joseph Harmon came to office, his first tasks had been to bring everything together in order to get a “composite view” of the number of people on the payroll of the then Office of the President (OP).
“It would be impossible for the numbers in this compound to jump so astronomically,” Trotman said. “Minister of State Harmon had said that when we took over, we found people were employed throughout different agencies and offices.”
Trotman denied that Government could have gone out and hired hundreds of personnel. He also noted that when the budget was being considered, the Ministry of the Presidency had comprised of the Public Service Ministry and Staff College, the department of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Ministry of Citizenship, the Ministry of Social cohesion and the General Registrar’s office.
“So this is why you would see what appears to be a jump,” he pointed out. “It has not been this mass hiring of staff, but because of the bundling and the new functions of the Ministry of the Presidency.”
“The General Registrar’s office alone processes birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates. The Ministry of the Presidency handles social cohesion and citizenship issues. I think the coalition of the numbers will give you what appears to be frightening figures.”
Trotman also provided statistics. He noted that as of May 2015, when the government first assumed office, there were 375 employees at the then OP. By January 2016, the number was down to 325.
Meanwhile, a press release from the Ministry of the Presidency also categorically denied the report. Calling it “misleading at best”, the MOTP noted that it could have been avoided had the newspaper made contact with Harmon.
“According to Minister Harmon, following the May 2015 elections MOTP now comprises the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Ministry of Citizenship, and still includes the Public Service Department, which was a standalone Ministry under the previous administration,” the release said.
“In addition, all the accompanying departments are now part of MOTP, including the General Registrar’s Office, Immigration, E-Governance, and the National Community Development Council,” the release continued.
“The Ministry of Natural Resources was only recently designated as a separate Ministry. It was also a Ministry within MOTP until January 2016.”
The release noted that these organizational changes have meant that the Ministry of the Presidency now covers a wider range of operational areas and cannot be compared to the (OP) under the previous administration.
“In addition, the staff complement dedicated to the work of the office of the President under the current administration has actually gone down.”
He also noted that as of January 2016, the Public Service Department, previously the Public Service Ministry staff totalled 50, Department of Natural Resources; 58, Ministry of Citizenship; 141 and E-Governance; 69.
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure, in a press release also stated that the information published by chartered accounting firm, Ram and McRae, in its “Focus on Guyana’s National Budget 2016″was inaccurate.
“In the firm’s analysis, it was stated that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure saw an increase in contract employees’ salaries, from $9M to $51M under the Policy Development and Administration Programme,” the release said.
“Additionally, it was stated that, under the Public Works Programme, the figure moved from $182M to $533M. These figures represented an increase in the number of contract workers from 20 to 38 for the Policy Development Programme and 250 to 255 for the Public Works Programme,” the firm stated.
“However, the published information is inaccurate and only focused on the second budget presented for the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
Under the Ministry, the budget was divided into two parts: the first, from January 2015 to August 2015, and the second, from September 2015 to December 2015.”
The release noted that for the first period, the budget was for Agency 31, Ministry of Public Works, while the second period was for Agency 32, Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
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