By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THREE hundred and eleven people were hired by the Ministry of Education in the six months before the May 10 general election, Education Minister Jeff Lloyd revealed in the House of Assembly yesterday.
He said there are departments in his ministry in which workers have “virtually nothing to do”.
“What’s disturbing about this, is that the new hires did not submit or were not required to submit, to the ordinary hiring process of the public service,” he said.
“As a consequence, these persons appear on the Ministry of Education’s pay sheet, but not on the public service pay sheet, creating serious challenges as far as budget, expectations, etc, goes.
“In addition, there are a number of other contract workers who were hired in the last year, in some instances doing tasks for which persons presently employed can easily do, and not only that, paid more for those tasks than when they were in their substantive positions.”
Thus far during the budget debate, representatives of the Minnis administration have said their predecessors engaged in a number of questionable activities prior to the election with respect to contracts and hiring, creating the impression that such a spur in pre-election activities was politically motivated.
Nonetheless, hiring in the public service has not traditionally been a transparent process. The Public Service Commission, which has a constitutional role in the appointments of people to the public service, has no legal mandate to report its work to the public, unlike equivalent commissions in some countries which use the Westminster system like the United Kingdom.
The person responsible for ensuring that accountable processes are adhered to when it comes to hiring is the minister responsible for the public service.
As such, new ministers sometimes claim irregular hiring practices took place by those who preceded them.
Brensil Rolle, minister of state for the public service and National Insurance, said last week that 6,500 people were hired to the public service by the Christie administration and the government’s payroll increased by $10m in the final five months of that administration.
Despite the hiring increases, Mr Lloyd said some departments in his ministry remain understaffed while some other departments are overstaffed.
“We are overcrowded with janitors and janitresses and security or general workers,” he said. “I am advised that there are several departments within the ministry where people have virtually nothing to do.”
The Ministry of Education and Department of Education have over 6,000 employees, Mr Lloyd said, 4,500 of whom belong to the department as administrators, teachers and support staff.
The Ministry and Department of Education have been allocated $280,247,074 for the upcoming fiscal year, with 66 per cent of that going directly to personal emoluments, he said.
There is also $20m for renovations, upgrades, repairs and new buildings.