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Recent disconnection of phone lines should be a wakeup call – PM


The recent disconnection of several telephone lines at government institutions and departments last week should be a wakeup call for Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments who neglect their duties.{{more}}

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said at a press conference on Monday, March 6, that he was in no way displeased when the services to a number of schools, health centers and police stations, as well as other locations throughout the country, were disconnected by telecommunications company LIME, and that the senior public servants should be aware of the abuse and misuse of the telephone service by staff of these departments and ministries.

“They needed a shock therapy to address it.”

“Senior public servants; the permanent secretaries and heads of departments have not, emphasize have not, by and large, they have not managed this problem.

“I have spoken to them repeatedly over the years; they would exercise some control for now and then they go back to the old ways.”

The lines were disconnected on Tuesday, February 28, for non payment of bills totalling $2.6 million, a figure which has been queried by the Prime Minister, based on information he has since received from relevant departments.

Dr. Gonsalves said that in times past, LIME would prevent outgoing calls from being made by delinquent government lines, but in this instance, both ingoing and outgoing calls were disconnected.

This, the prime Minister said, made him ‘happy’, and that he hoped the action would result in new and better systems put in place, and that the officials with ‘shame in their faces’ would curb the abuse and misuse of the government’s telephones, and to make sure that the bills are paid.

For years, since before I came to office, there’s this problem of the misuse and abuse of government telephones.”

“The abuse and misuse have intensified, since you can call from a fixed line to a mobile which is more expensive.

“….Because why should a police station owe twenty something thousand dollars in telephone? Why should one owe sixteen thousand?”

The Prime Minister refuted suggestions that there were no funds available to pay the bills of the government

“I know when I say that they say ‘Ralph is only saying so… I’m telling you as the Minister of Finance; that is not so….”

“Sometimes you have to allow certain things to take their course in order to be able to get the necessary correct course.

“I am putting this issue clearly at the feet of the management in the public service: permanent secretaries and the heads of departments… those who are abusing and misusing the telephones…. We have too much things to do with our money for people to be wasting it.”(JJ)