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Civil Service Jobs Will Remain Safe

Public Services and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle.

Public Services and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE government does not plan to send public servants home to reduce public expenditure given the economic fallout from the pandemic, Public Service and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle said.

“The government took the carefully considered position that during this pandemic and in this environment, the only persons who are steadily employed are government employees and they will support their families. So that is the reason why no civil servant got a deduction or was furloughed during this time,” he told reporters yesterday.

“We understand the seriousness of these times and we just took the position that it was in the best interest of us and the service that we keep at least some persons employed and persons that we selected were public officers.”

He also said: “…Approximately just over 1,000 individuals leave the public service every year and we have not increased that number and we’ve not increased the number of persons entering the public service and so individuals are trying to at this time keep a job.

“This is the environment in which we live and we are not encouraging individuals at this time to separate except in those agencies where they’re having difficulties.”

It is not clear how many people are currently unemployed. Labour Director John Pinder has estimated the country’s unemployment rate to be around 38 to 42 percent.

However, the figures were not backed by Labour Minister Dion Foulkes, who told reporters last week that it’s difficult to accurately state the country’s current unemployment rate.

Mr Foulkes also said he believed that the nation’s unemployment levels were “drastically” down given the fact that many people have returned to work since the start of the pandemic.

Yesterday, Mr Rolle said more than $200 million has been paid out by the National Insurance Board to provide income support and unemployment assistance to workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said never in the country’s history has the social support agency expended such an amount of funds to provide economic aid to hurting Bahamians.

“Never before in the history of The Bahamas has any government agency spent as much as NIB on income support and unemployment assistance,” he said. “I looked at numbers yesterday which suggest that when you look at the entire income support and unemployment assistance programme, some $219 million has already been spent and that does not include an additional $10 million that will come in the month of February so it could easily say that roughly in terms of income support alone, Bahamians have benefited to some degree (by) nearly $230 million.”

This comes as the hotel industry staggers to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with one major resort recently announcing plans to close its operations for two years as it undergoes renovations.

The situation has forced many redundant workers to continue relying on the government’s unemployment assistance programme, which has been extended until the first quarter of 2021.

The programme initially began in March 2020 and has been extended several times to help those still in need.

According to Mr Rolle, an additional $10m has already been allocated by the government for the continuation of the programme.

As to what will happen when the initiative comes to an end, the NIB minister said officials are hoping that more hotel properties and businesses will begin to reopen by then.

“That is a concern,” he told reporters. “We anticipate that industries will be coming back. We understand that they will be coming back slowly, but I think the Bahamian public also appreciates that the government has extended income support much longer than we believe was possible.

“If you look back at the history of income support in the country, we anticipated that we would’ve gone to June. It’s now almost 12 months of solid income support from the government and NIB.”

Comments

Dawes 9 months, 2 weeks ago

What smart people we have running our country. They have not let anyone go or furloughed them as it will affect the economy too much. Of course the will probably have to increase taxes on the private sector to fund all this largesse. Can't see any issues with that, as the private sector is so awash with money and has been booming all this time.

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tribanon 9 months, 2 weeks ago

“The government took the carefully considered position that during this pandemic and in this environment, the only persons who are steadily employed are government employees and they will support their families. So that is the reason why no civil servant got a deduction or was furloughed during this time,” he told reporters yesterday.

“We understand the seriousness of these times and we just took the position that it was in the best interest of us and the service that we keep at least some persons employed and persons that we selected were public officers.”

EVERYONE IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR WHO IS SUFFERING GREAT FINANCIAL HARDSHIP, AND EVERY BUSINESS THAT IS SUFFERING FINANCIAL LOSSES, SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CEASE PAYING TAXES AND FEES TO THE GOVERNMENT, AS WELL AS THEIR UTILITY BILLS, UNTIL MINNIS CLARIFIES HIS ADMINISTRATION'S APPARENT VERY DISCRIMINATORY POSITION THAT ONLY PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYEES ARE TO BE PROTECTED FROM THE DEVASTATING COLLAPSE OF OUR COUNTRY'S ECONOMY. THIS IS A TRULY SHOCKING REVELATION THAT CONFIRMS WHAT MANY OF US HAVE ALL ALONG SUSPECTED.

And Minnis is deviously dangling this 'protection carrot' in front of the civil work force even though he knows full well that no matter what the outcome of the impending snap election, the pay and benefits of public sector employees will need to be significantly reduced because the public treasury is bone dry, NIB is now technically bankrupt and government is quickly losing its ability to continue borrowing to meet its payroll.

The IMF has told Minnis in no uncertain terms that the very high cost of our country's grossly over-bloated civil work force must be reduced as soon as possible and this is the principal reason Minnis will soon be calling a snap election.

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Topdude 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Tribanon, how come you have not won the Lottery in Miami? You seem to know everything about everything and everyone so what are you waiting for? When you when the Lottery you can buy Nygard’s soon to be on sale property and invite your Pamper Boys and girls. Please give us a break with your daily foolishness, bitterness and stupidness. Come on man are you serious about this filth you belch on a daily basis?

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tribanon 9 months, 2 weeks ago

@Bottomdud: I truly am flattered by all of your attention. LOL

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Topdude 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I know. And that is how you get your jollies.

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bahamianson 9 months, 2 weeks ago

the private sector needs to shut down and let these dimwits earn their salary. all they do is pass the buck. we need more money......ok, increase taxes. what brilliance, who thought of that. we are a lost country , and we need persons with financial intelligence to figure this out. all we do is increase taxes, rely on tourist and hotels, pave roads, pander to unions for more money, hence increasing taxes to keep paying all the perks, failing grades, bankrupt bahamas air, people selling drivers licenses and plates, people selling immigration status, people selling passports, people stealing from grocery stores, stealing from employers, poor service at every government agency, contractors that do poor work and screw people, and the list goes on. we need to start this country over again.

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Sickened 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I bet you they are replacing any person who quits or retires from the civil service - instead of just letting the numbers naturally decrease to a sensible number.

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sheeprunner12 9 months, 2 weeks ago

40% of the Government workers are "temporary" on minimum wages ............ they will never get a pension.

Unlike the fatcat politicians and their special appointees to boards and contracts who get theirs upfront and guaranteed.

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DDK 9 months, 2 weeks ago

But of course they are........

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sheeprunner12 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Less than 30,000 Bahamians work for the Government ........ out of a 200,000 labour force.

The civil service earns $800 million in salaries & benefits each year. That is an average of about $25,000 per year per Government worker .......... However, the average civil servant makes LESS than $20,000 per year (not a Minister who makes $70,000 or PM who makes $90,000)

The private sector employs the bulk of the workers, and pays far better salaries than the Government ............ so, this continued LIE about BLOATED civil service is nonsense. What is needed is succession-planning, skills training and proper redeployment ..... Why have 10 janitresses or filing clerks in ONE office?????

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tribanon 9 months, 2 weeks ago

For decades now decent paying job opportunites in the private sector have been shrinking at an ever increasing pace as a result of the many failed economic policies of both FNM and PLP administrations alike. And that's just a plain simple fact known by just about every Bahamian. You and other like you can put as much rouge lip stick on Minnis's lips as you like, but they're still gunna be big fat and ugly!

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Sickened 9 months, 2 weeks ago

You started your second paragraph about how the Bloated civil service was a lie and then ended it by giving an example of why it's bloated!

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