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Sacked Workers Need Job Options

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Gowon Bowe

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

INTERMITTENT public service firings stand to create a “snowball effect of fear and pandemonium,” according to Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) President Gowon Bowe, who has urged the Public Service Commission to take a centralised approach to the government’s stated restructuring efforts.

Mr Bowe said the private sector was keenly eyeing reports of terminations in the public service, adding that the firings will only shift the government’s burden from one pocket to another unless economic initiatives are fully espoused and implemented.

Mr Bowe said: “It creates a snowball effect of fear and pandemonium. If all the ministries are doing a survey of their needs assessment, there should be a central statement saying we see the need to disengage however many persons, and these are the reasons why, and these are the initiatives or opportunities so there’s a calming effect.

“There should be a conclusive statement so we’re very clear on how many we’re disengaging over a period of years, and stating this is how we do so to ensure impact is minimal.

“This way we achieve both aims of right-sizing but also ensuring that they don’t negatively impact the average person’s reliance on a paycheck,” he told The Tribune.

Mr Bowe underscored the need to develop and positively reinforce a culture of saving in the country as many Bahamians were living paycheck to paycheck.

“It’s either on the payroll or Social Service benefits. Shifting the problem from one pocket to the next doesn’t solve it.

“If you don’t stimulate activity for the private sector to absorb them, you’re going to pick up that expense somewhere else. The culling or trimming down has to be done in the mindset where certainly the jobs that are not warranted, those should be terminated and if they were only done for short-term political gain they should be looked at. But more importantly how is the government stimulating short term and long term economic activity?

“What are the low hanging fruit that you can go after, like helping small to medium businesses so that as you have the right-sizing and restructuring of the civil service, that the impact or the blow is minimised by the private sector’s ability to absorb them.

“What needs to be carefully laid out is how they plan to do this,” he said.

Mr Bowe’s comments follow the termination of at least 27 employees from the Ministry of Tourism this month.

Last Friday, the Ministry of Tourism confirmed that 16 employees were terminated - 13 from New Providence, and three from Bimini.

Redundancies in its Grand Bahama office earlier this month affected 11 persons.

Fifteen persons were let go from the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation last week. An official in the Minnis administration said the workers were pre-election hires and were sent home because their contracts were up.

Mr Bowe said the intermittent nature of the firings create fear and an opportunity for the matter to be used as a political football to distract from the government’s agenda.

He added: “It may be wiser for the Public Service Commission to lay out that these are the submissions from the various ministries, this is the total we’re going to be disengaging, and these are the programmes we put in place, whether its resume writing, apprenticeship programmes, to soften the blow of the necessary move.

“It’s not beneficial to do it piecemeal.”

Comments

baldbeardedbahamian 2 years ago

Mr. Bowe is being a little silly. Does he actually know the definition of pandemonium? And what well run privately owned business would want to hire someone who had been working for the government? People who have worked for government are quite likely to have developed slack working habits and an over-developed sense of entitlement. It is also as likely as not that they were hired for their political allegiance rather than on merit. To hire an ex-government worker is to add a bad apple into your workplace barrel of good apples.

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ohdrap4 2 years ago

yep, every time i pay vat, i close my eyes and think of gowon bowe.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years ago

Not true!! There are some smart intelligent, industrious persons working in government but they can't shoulder the entire operation. But there are also some bad people like you say and they taint everyone else

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BahamasForBahamians 2 years ago

I think Gowon Bowe is speaking from a position of social responsibility as opposed to a position of a trained financier.

Though I am opposed to the firings in the public sector, this post makes no business sense.

However, as a Bahamian, who's seen the effects of unemployment we already know that any spontaneous increase to unemployment without alternatives can be paid for in two ways:

Either (1) trying to arrest the criminal activity such victims may resort to (2) through government support via social assistances (3) more crime

The third is optional. LOL

I assume he is being proactive in attemtping to maintain the status quo.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years ago

Now let's all try and follow Bowe's very socialistic line of thinking for a moment. He seems to be telling our new FNM government that they should not go about purging the public service payroll of all the unnecessary (and non-productive) new hires that the previous PLP government hired in an elaborate scheme to either buy votes in an effort to win the last general election or saddle the new FNM government with crippling additional payroll costs. Bowe is of the view that all of these unnecessary (and non-productive) new hires should be kept on the public service payroll until such time that the new FNM government has created conditions conducive to the growth of private business sector job opportunities sufficient to absorb them once they are removed from the public service payroll. Otherwise, these unnecessary (and non-productive) public service hires would require the new FNM government to devote additional (and perhaps more costly) resources to social welfare benefits of one kind or another to help avoid social unrest.

But Bowe's logic is fundamentally flawed in as much as he wrongfully assumes all of the unnecessary (and non-productive) new hires by the previous government are possessed of the education and skill sets that would make employable by the private business sector. But this is clearly not the case because most of these unnecessary (and non-productive) civil servants do not have a rudimentary command of the English language and lack even the most basic math skills. They are essentially unemployable, but, as grossly incompetent civil servants, they are driving the private business community absolutely mad in the course of its necessary daily dealings with the various government departments, agencies and corporations. The real problem, which escapes a 'tax and be merry socialist' like Bowe, is how should the government and private sector work together to make these people employable. Put your mind to that Mr. Bowe. In the meantime, our new FNM government must continue downsizing the public sector work force to the maximum extent possible if only because borrowing more and more to meet government payroll or social welfare benefits is just not a viable option under any scenario.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years ago

"#He added: “It may be wiser for the Public Service Commission to lay out that these are the submissions from the various ministries, this is the total we’re going to be disengaging, and these are the programmes we put in place, whether its resume writing, apprenticeship programmes, to soften the blow of the necessary move."

That's called a "plan", thinking ahead. They don't have one and they haven't demonstrated it. One more fire to put out.

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sheeprunner12 2 years ago

The PLP hired 6,500 extra workers between 2012-17 .......... That is the initial pool to be re-evaluated for termination ......... especially those hired 6 months before the election

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licks2 2 years ago

I do think that Mr Bowe has always been out to lunch in many of his "foray" into socioeconomic governmental decision making for the last four years or so. . .a trained accountant I believe? He is no transformational "mind" . . . as per Dame Sawyer. . .he just need to shut up. . .stick to what he was trained for. . .quite trying to be a "breen" for the nation. . .because he is not that good!! I don't know where he expect for the people to go. . .to the private sector. . .where else!! When the private sector fire their undesirables. . .government don't tell them that they should "give" them alternative options because they will just likely come into government services!! Further more. . .when Sandals and others fired a "dray load" of good workers he did not say a word. . .now it is a problem that government must clean-up the public service. . .something he pushed for in the past. . .

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Abaconian 2 years ago

Bowe has some good ideas, like his insistence on changing the government's accounting method to an accrual-based system. But we need to cut the fat off the public sector and do so fast. The sad reality is that many of these government workers do not possess the skill-set to be readily absorbed into the private sector at a similar salary, no matter how gently you try to release them. By all means we need to be conscious of the fact that people have bills to pay, but at the same time we need to get it over and done with. A sharp knife cuts the quickest and hurts the least. Right now, we do not have the time and the resources to wait until programs are made and become available to ensure a smooth transition into the private sector - though,I I am not opposed to such programs being considered for the future...

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Honestman 2 years ago

Gowon, haven't you heard?, the rating agencies are threatening further downgrades if we don't get our financial house in order. We need to cut costs NOW, we don't have the luxury of being able to ease these PLP politically appointed civil servants out of jobs. Minnis and the FNM have a job to do, let them get on with it.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years ago

I agree with Bowe. We planning for all kinds of things but not planning for our greatest resource, the PEOPLE. Ok fine, a bunch of them are unskilled, unqualified, demotivated with bad attitudes. Well FIX IT. find a program to make the worst employees in the world the best employees in the world. I don't think the solution is to fire a bunch of people and leave them to fend for themselves. It's like sweeping dirt under the rug. You won't want to see that room in five years. Try to form some partnerships with major corporations give them the vision for transforming a country that is strategically located with a massive workforce into the best little island in the world.

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