0

‘Imf Won’T Force Us To Axe More Jobs’

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest. 
Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

DEPUTY Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest yesterday said the government has no intention to downsize the public sector in response to concerns levelled by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

However, he did not rule out the possibility of a downsizing exercise as he underscored the Minnis administration has a priority to contain an increase in the overall wage bill.

The IMF has called for the Minnis administration to trim the civil service wage bill to fill the $240m gap needed to meet its Fiscal Responsibility targets.

Asked if terminations could be expected, Mr Turnquest told reporters outside of Cabinet: “No. Certainly not as a result of anything the IMF would have said.

“We are doing our own internal reviews and trying to rationalise for ourselves where we see people and service levels that we need.

“We do not have an intentional plan to downsize but rather note the concerns and acknowledge that we have to contain the growth in the wage bill overall.”

The East Grand Bahama MP further suggested the government has always been aware of the unsustainable public sector work force number.

“This is something that we’ve known since we came to office. We’ve consistently been saying the last administration bumped up the public service to unsustainable levels.

“We have been trying to rationalise the new hires and those on contracts. Those that we can move off of the public payroll in a way that gives those persons involved a safe landing. We are trying to do that.

“We continue to be cautious about hiring and trying to rationalise services trying to move people around in the public service to ensure that we are getting value for money and that people are being productive and have a career path because one of the unfortunate things about these contracts that have been given out in the last administration is that there is no career path for these people. So they were just in low paid minimum wage jobs with no hope of being hired and no future and so we are trying to see if we can restructure some of that, rationalise it and bring the civil service back into some kind of order and put these people in productive positions so that they can have a chance at having long term employment.”

He added: “Others we are trying to train to make sure that the job empowerment programme that was initiated some time ago that that actually becomes effective because it has been at this point just a place to park people to justify giving some service or some contribution.

“We want to make that a true empowerment programme so that people at the end of 52 weeks do in fact have some skill that they can go into the public service or into the private sector and contribute in a meaningful way and build lives for themselves.”

Mr Turnquest was also asked about apparent firings under the Minnis administration.

“You say persons are being terminated, I don’t know that,” he replied.

“I know that there are constantly reviews being done, that there are contracts that are coming to an end all the time. Some are being renewed depending upon the need of the various ministries and agencies. I suspect that will continue.”

However, he could not say how many people this continuous process could affect.

“These are very careful decisions we make based upon human resources recommendations and the needs within these different ministries and agencies.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its newly-released Article IV report on Monday suggested that further sacrifice was required for the Government to hit its fiscal consolidation goals even though its 2017-2018 targets were “within reach”.

The Fund “urged” the Minnis administration to further cut recurrent spending, which goes on fixed costs such as civil service salaries and rents, and avoid “an undue squeeze” on capital spending on essential infrastructure - the very method by which it has narrowed the 2017-2018 deficit.

The Government’s Fiscal Responsibility Bill, unveiled yesterday, seeks to cut the fiscal deficit to 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) within three years. But the IMF warned it might miss this target without its recommended Budgetary ‘adjustment’.

“The fiscal target for fiscal year 2018 is within reach, despite the unbudgeted purchase of [Bahamas] Resolve promissory notes, although at the expense of lower-than-budgeted capital spending,” the IMF said.

“Staff recommended an additional adjustment of 2.25 per cent of GDP to bring the deficit to 0.5 per cent of GDP by fiscal year 2021- the medium-term target under the proposed fiscal rule - to put the public debt-to-GDP ratio on a firmly downward trajectory.

“Staff urged the authorities to identify measures to undertake this adjustment, with a strong focus on reducing current spending and avoid an undue compression of capital spending.”

Comments

TalRussell 3 months ago

The only surprise in this clarification by Comrade Kevin Peter is that anyone would be surprised by how his Imperial red shirts cabinet colleagues will not do more than liptease lips the 40% overstaffed government work force with Fire Red Lipstick - when far too many lips have grown such size as to require urgent radical removal surgery.

0

John 3 months ago

This country needs more job growth NOT job cuts. Country needs more self sufficiency and reductions on imports. Country (government) needs more efficiency in the use of tax dollars. The government’s continued efforts to stamp out corruption, abuse of public office and efficient use of government resources can easily result in $350 Millon spending reductions. BUT remember every time the National Debt increases by a filler, that is one dollar less the government has to spend. And if the National Debt continues to increase, especially at the rate it is currently increasing most of government’s revenue will go to service the debt. Are you willing to have cook outs to keep the government running?

0

Dawes 3 months ago

More Job Growth in the private Sector. It needs plenty Job Cuts in Government. One of the reasons the private sector struggles is due to the taxes they pay to keep the bloated civil service employed. Until this is changed the private sector will continue to struggle and the country will continue to get in debt until it all collapses. If the civil service jobs are needed people wouldn't mind. but we have all experienced how overstaffed these departments are, with people who either won't or can't do their job in a timely manner.

1

sheeprunner12 3 months ago

The problem is not just the present civil service ...... It is all those who have been employed, retired, re-engaged etc. for the past 50 years ...... That pension bill is the X-factor that will bring the Government down in the next 10-20 years.

0

joeblow 3 months ago

The borrower is a servant to the lender and oh how our governments have borrowed and keep borrowing!

0

ThisIsOurs 3 months ago

...because we were going to do it anyway...

0

John 3 months ago

Do you know who now controls every single bank on the planet? And this includes the US Federal Reserve. Google it. So they have the power to manipulate and control every single economy on earth. And if you’re not in their favor you may get the Zika virus or Ebola or tainted corned beef.

0

proudloudandfnm 3 months ago

Stop worrying about these agencies. Reduce our tax burden, reduce our utility costs, actually make doing business easier and watch the new and improved revenue flood in. Tell the agencies to hold their horses while you create business opportunities that actually will turn our economy around. Time to eliminate duty.

0

hrysippus 3 months ago

Fisiccal mismanagement for nigh on fifty years, . . . ... ... Has left the country crying economic tears, . . .. .... Members hiring voters who haven't got a clue, . . . . . ..... Of how to get to work on time or what work they're supposed to do, .. . . ...... They minimize their salaries buying furnitures on the tick, . .. . . ....... four weeks a year vacation and another three off sick, . . . . ... If grammy or the auntie gone then that's compassion leave, . . . ...... It don't leave much at all to earn 'cept only what you thieve, . . . ....... And monies from the public for selling license out the back, . . . . ...... This all can only happen 'cos oversight so slack, . . . . . ... .... And all these fiscal parasites get pension when they go, . . . . . .... And so we're left to wonder why our economy so slow.

1

SP 3 months ago

Kudos to Hubert Alexander Ingraham and Perry Gladstone Christie for "leading" the Bahamas to this place we now find ourselves!

They must be unimaginably proud to have attained their goal of enriching a handful of friends, family, and lovers while watching our people suffer in mass and shouldering the responsibility of destroying one of the once most prosperous Island nations in the region.

It is totally unbelievable how they thoroughly fooled so many for so long, and even more unbelievable how many are still willing to follow them again!

0

sheeprunner12 3 months ago

Yes ........ the National Debt went from $1 Billion after 25 years of Ministerial Government (1967-1992) to $7 Billion in the next 25 years ........ Ingraham and Perry either didnot see any need to reform the Government fiscal practices OR they were negligent in arresting the rot in the country's economic outlook ....... Maybe it was BOTH ......... and now Minnis either changes course OR he will be the one holding the bag when it bursts soon.

0

Sign in to comment