Opposition Member of Parliament, (MP) Indranie Chandarpal, has criticized the coalition Government over a failure to act on its own recommendations.
In her contribution to the 2019 budget debates, Chandarpal highlighted the issue of hiring contract workers.
Alluding to information in the 2017 Audit General Report ,Chandarpal had noted that despite recommendations of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to minimize the number of staff employed on a contractual basis, the Government continues to hire workers on contract.
According to Chandarpal, as a result, employment costs from the year 2014 -2018 increased to some $28 .9 B or by 68 percent.
Of that figure, the Opposition MP noted that a notable percentage has been expended on contract workers.
She said that while in Opposition, the coalition Government had been heavily critical of the presence of these classes of workers and had promised to cut out the practice of having contracted employees.
However based on the AG report 2017, Chandarpal said the government has failed to act on its own advice.
The reports outlines that Ministry of Presidency, expended over $969 M on payment for over 309 contract workers for last year, alone.
Further, Chandarpal expressed concerns at the overall lack of action in regards to recommendations in the AG report.
She noted that “Of 602 recommendation made in 2016 AG report— only 30% were partially implemented. Seventy percent was not implemented.”
Quoting from the report, Chandarpal noted that the AG observed the lack action of the various budget agencies.
In many instances recommendations are not implemented. As a result, each year weaknesses and issues continue to impact negatively in level of governance with regards to accountability mechanism….” she added.
According to the information recorded in the Auditor General Report of 2017 an amount of $1.112 B was set to be expended on four employment projects under the Ministry of the Presidency in Regions One, Two, Five and Six.
Of the $1.112 B set to expend on four employment programmes, 87 per cent was spent on contract workers employed under the Ministry of the Presidency.
The report further highlighted that last year February a Public Service Commission circular was sent out recommending that all Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Department and Regional Executive Officers submit a list of all officers on contract/gratuity to be appointed on the pensionable establishment.
However, as of December 31, 2017, the Ministry still had 309 contract employees on its payroll.
In response to the concerns raised, Head of the Budget Agency indicated that the Ministry of Presidency had promised that action will be taken to have eligible contracted employees transferred to the fixed establishment as required.
However, due to the expiration of the tenure of the Public Service Commission, the process was put on hold.
“Given that the Commission has been reactivated, the process for transferring the remaining staff will be actively pursued,” the Ministry had said in a response.
The Audit Office, therefore, recommended that the Ministry minimize the number of staff being employed on a contractual basis and continues with the process of moving its current eligible employee over to the pensionable establishment in keeping with the instructions.
Within the Ministry of the Presidency itself, contracted cleaners account for a net salary of over $206,000 per month; inclusive of gratuity and vacation allowance.
A typist clerk is paid over $170,000 per month, inclusive of these benefits as well, while a contracted driver makes $219,000.
In the case of administrative assistants, their net salary range is $492,000; while an administrative officer makes $551,000 and the administrative manager makes almost $1.5 million, inclusive of gratuity and vacation allowance.
The two highest paid contracted staff within the Ministry are Senior Executive Director of the Public Service College, Retired Colonel Lawrence Paul ($1.9 million); and Director of Training, Calvin Benn ($1.8 million), the document highlighted.
The issue of contracted employees has been a sore one for successive Governments.
In 2016, chartered accounting firm Ram and McRae pointed out that too much strain was being placed on the public coffers with the employment of contracted workers. It made the finding following the delivery of this year’s National Budget.
The firm had noted the Ministry of the Presidency’s increase in contract employees from 298 in 2015 to 505 in 2016, as well as an increase in the cost of wages and salaries for contract employees from $142 million to $798 million.
In the case of the Office of the Prime Minister, it had noted that the cost of wages and salaries for contracted employees rose from $21 million to $82 million.
It also addressed the Public Infrastructure Ministry, which saw an increase from $9 million to $51 million in a particular programme, and from $182 million to $533 million under its Public Works Programme.
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