– 289 contract employees at present; 22 contracts terminated
By Jarryl Bryan
After being the source of a heated debate on Monday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon brought a list
of the contracted employees to the National Assembly yesterday as promised. The list will finally shed some light on the issue of increases in contracted employees in the Ministry of the Presidency and the opposition’s claims of witch-hunting.
The detailed list, which was officially addressed to the Clerk of the National Assembly, consists of contracted employees currently under the Ministry’s various departments, their salaries and emoluments, a list of contracted employees who either resigned, were fired or did not have their contracts renewed, and at least one advertisement – for head of the Office of Climate Change (OCC).
It shows that for the year 2016, the Ministry will cost some $838,919,894 in wages, allowances including duty free, vacation allowances and gratuity expenses and National Insurance Scheme (NIS), with some $48.2M in basic monthly salaries.
The total number of contracted staffers in the Ministry, as provided by Harmon, stands at 289 employees.
For the budding Public Service Staff College, there were 11 employees listed. In the documents provided, there are two Executive Directors earning at least $1.3M in gratuity. The Director of the College will be earning a gratuity of $1.1M. Under the sub-heading Administration, there are 67 contracted staffers, while in maintenance there are five.
The documents also showed that in the Cabinet there were 12 contracted employees, 18 working either as confidential secretaries, assistants, advisors, drivers and cooks in the confidential secretariat. In the Minister of State Secretariat, there were a total of 20 contracted workers, while there was just three in the e-Governance unit.
The Climate Change Lead Negotiator will be earning a basic salary of $1M and a gratuity of $2.7M. In his division there will be 25 contracted employees, the lead negotiator included. In the Political Affairs division there are 8 employees, with the head earning $1.4M.
In the Press and Publicity division, the Presidential Press Liaison Officer will be earning a basic salary of $530,000 and a gratuity of $1.4M. His division comprises 15 staffers.
In the Community Development Council, there are 31 listed contract employees, while in the Office of the Advisor on National Security, there are just two.
Under the office of Youth Empowerment, there are 10 listed contracted staffers, while under Budget and Finance, there are six Accounts Clerk II. For Social Cohesion, the Project Coordinator heads a list of 14.
For the Civil Defence Commission, the Director General is earning a basic salary of $808,598, with a gratuity of $2.1M. There are also 13 listed contracted employees in this division.
Meanwhile, after having to face consistent accusations by the Opposition about witch-hunting, in relation to public servants perceived to have affiliations to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) since coming to office, the Government provided a list that shows 22 staffers actually had their contracts “determined” in 2015. This includes four who were dismissed, six who resigned, eight whose contracts were not renewed, and four who were “transferred to E-Gov.”
On the matter of contracted employees, the opposition had accused Harmon of evading their inquiry after they had questioned what process was used to hire them on Monday. Instead, Harmon had told the house about why they were hired; based on a need that existed in the Ministries and departments.
“While I hear the honourable member talking about the need,” opposition MP Juan Edghill had said, rising to address Harmon, “I am asking about the process. Was there public advertising? How many persons responded to the advertising? Were there interviews conducted? I am hearing all kinds of things. The cause of this exercise is scrutiny.”
In explaining, Harmon stated that these individuals were identified and interviewed. Harmon also declared that the positions were advertised in the local newspapers and even international newspapers. The opposition demanded proof of these advertisements and Harmon had stated that the information would be supplied by yesterday.
PPP MP Irfaan Ali had also demanded information on the expenses attributed to contracted employees assigned overseas, as well as their names and status.
“Whether they work inside Guyana or outside in service of Guyana, that is what they are meant to do,” Harmon said. “I can’t provide that information. But any persons in that category would be in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Another area of contention was the Presidential Guard. While Edghill was adamant that there was an increase in the amount of personnel, Harmon stated that there was actually no increase for the year.
However, Edghill also asked whether the Presidential Guards were responsible for the security of the Prime Minister. Harmon confirmed this.
Questions were also put to the Minister about the $20M increase under the line item dealing with the rental of buildings. According to Harmon, this was for the much touted Public Service Staff College, for which $20M was budgeted.
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