…$11B budgeted to pay just over 4200
Many, including members of the Parliamentary opposition have highlighted the fact that a number of contract employees remain in the Public system at a huge expense to the treasury.
This is no new situation, since some of the very politicians who highlighted the issue following the release of Budget 2017, were party to similar scenarios just a few years ago.
Ram and McRae, an accounting firm, has spoken about the issue as well.
The company recalled that in 2016, it expressed concern over the continued trend under the new government and the fact that the numbers increased. Ram and McRae said that back then, it welcomed the assurance by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon that “there has been a clear direction by the President that it is our intention to return the Public Service to a professional one and so contract hires will be reduced to a minimum”.
Fast forward to figures contained in 2017 Budget, and the trend continues.
The company gave an example of Ministry of the Presidency which reported a planned increase in contract employees from 298 in 2015 to 505 in 2016; then, in 2017, the number climbed to 569. Included in the 569 figure, the company included the increase for Natural Resource Management for comparative purposes “but even if removed, the total increases from 449 to 495, i.e. by 46 persons or 10.2 percent.”
The company noted that cost-wise, the Ministry of the Presidency (excluding Natural Resources Management) shows an increase of $96.3 million or 8.5 percent.
Overall, the number of contract employees decreases from 4,254 (excluding the Regional Administrations) to 4,209, a fall of 45 persons. While this may sound commendable, Ram and McRae noted the cost of contract employees is increasing from $9.2B to $11.0B, an increase of $1.8B. The average cost (excluding benefits such as gratuity) increases from $2.2 million per person to $2.6M per person, or by 20.9 per cent.
The issue surrounding contract employees has been featured prominently in the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service of Guyana. The Report which was tabled in the National Assembly stated that: “Apart from the increase in cost to retain the contract employees, there is the issue of the arbitrary use of public resources by the political directorate to win political support, and indulge in other practices which are generally described as illegal and/or corrupt because they involve breaches of the law in the process of accessing public funds for such purposes. We are aware that this is an issue currently under discussion in Guyana. One of the emerging concerns is that those in control of public resources and assets are allowed too much leverage in their management, resulting in serious losses to the public and clear indications that there is a dire need for tighter scrutiny and control in such matters.”
The report contained several recommendations.
However, Ram and McRae pointed out that the report did not address how to deal with those contracted employees who were taken on by this Government “purely to reward them for their support in the elections, rather than for their qualification and suitability or those former friends and colleagues, mainly from the Army, who were invited back to Guyana.
The Report appears to be silent too on any age considerations.
“We do not encourage youths if we fill limited available posts with persons well into their sixties and seventies.”
Many were disappointed with the report the APNU+AFC government took in this regard.
Just recently, the nation found out that Director of Public Information, Imran Khan works for over $550,000 per month. Khan works out of the Office of the Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo.
This is the same Nagamootoo who coined the phrase ‘fat cats’ in reference to persons at Government agencies being paid huge amounts. But this was under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic government.
Nagamootoo coined the phrase just after he left the party.
He had said that, “Office of the President is running a Dharm Shala for friends and cronies.”
Nagamootoo said that it is clear as day to see that there are persons being paid by Office of the President “to do little or nothing, mostly nothing.”
However, many of those persons were paid less than what Khan is being paid.
Controversial Office of the President figure, in the person of the President’s Information Liaison Officer, Kwame McCoy was paid $334,850 per month.
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