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PM outlines plans to strengthen Public Service

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The IMF in 2006 suggested that some public servants should be laid off, but this country’s Prime Minister is doing the opposite. The government plans to hire 246 new public servants in 2008.{{more}}

“In an effort to strengthen a number of critical state functions and to improve the quality and level of service to the population, a total of 246 new positions have been created,” Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Ralph Gonsalves said last Wednesday, as he laid the estimates of the 2008 budget in Parliament.

As he presented a $757,261,400 budget, 20.2 percent above 2007’s approved budget, Dr Gonsalves announced that the 2008 estimate of recurrent expenditure is $517,495,950, which is an increase of $66.86 million or 14.8 percent over 2007.

In addition to the 10 per cent increase in salaries between 2007 and 2008, and the $8.60 million further increase in salaries due to reclassification, the additional $24.93 million or 12.9 per cent increase in wages and salary expenditure is due to the new posts created.

The bulk of these appointments will fall under the Ministry of National Security, Dr Gonsalves announced.

The police service will be 73 bodies stronger: 43 constables, 18 corporals and 5 sergeants, 3 Station Sergeants, one Inspector, one Assistant Superintendent and one Superintendent of Police.

A provision of $172,800 has also been provided to employ 20 rural constables, as was announced during the passage of the recent bill, aimed at curbing praedial larceny.

Additionally, 76 new teaching positions have been allocated to secondary education. However, only 45 new posts will be created. This, as the declining school population at the primary and technical levels has made the redeployment of 31 teachers possible.

Another 11 positions have been created in the Ministry of Finance, of which seven will be for positions in the Inland Revenue Department.

But the Opposition Leader is not happy.

During his contribution to the debate, Arnhim Eustace said that the current fiscal position that this country finds itself in, requires that serious care be exercised “in relation to the expenses of the public service in order to be able to maintain the positions of the existing public service.”

Eustace said that there would come a time when the Government will not be able to pay salaries, unless serious changes are made.

“I ain’t clapping for that, because I want to know how we are going to pay for that,’ Eustace said.

Caution was the watch word of his presentation, as he urged the Government to better prioritize its programmes.

Referring to the estimates laid by the Prime Minister as mostly bogus, Eustace said that the country is being led into fiscal detriment, if it continues along the lines that it is going.

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