DLP (Redefining) Re-D’fining What Is Meant By: “Qualified” OPINION FROM – Henderson Bovell

Mr Bovell feels "The DLP (should) not to listen to the IMF and again inflict more unnecessary pain on the public servants of Barbados."

Based on Newspaper reports, it would seem that over the weekend, Prime Minister Stuart again raised the matter of amending the Public Service Act, passed in December 2007.

It is not the first time that the DLP has been arguing that some of the provision of the existing legislation could deny some within the Public Service of the opportunity for promotion because (according to them) it places greater emphasis on “paper qualification/s than length of service or even ability to do the job: “as an equally weighted qualification.”

Cap. 34: Section 12 (1) of: The Service Commissions (Public Service) Regulations, 1978 was crystal clear on this point. Section 12 (2) was equally as clear. “Qualification” did not only mean “paper qualification.”

But there now seems to be a new urgency on the part of the DLP! Why? It would seem that the DLP is again – merely redefining (re-D’fining) the literal interpretation of “qualified” in the law. I say: “again” because it was not long ago when the BLP was accusing the DLP of changing the law to give one man (who it alleged did not qualify) the job as Chief Justice of Barbados.

It therefore cannot be ‘breaking news’ even if the DLP is now proposing to amend or change the Public Service Act, so that – in the same way it changed the Supreme Court of Judicature Act to benefit one man, any amendment it hereafter makes to the Public Service Act, would benefit many. But since the DLP so willingly did it to accommodate one man – then why should it be shy to now change the law to benefit ‘any’ and ‘all’ of those employed within Central Government?

Ultimately, you want the best person for the job. However, the DLP would never support such a position – else it clearly would be the Opposition. But by changing the Public Service Act, all the DLP seems to be doing, is – not only downplaying but at the same time – seeking to justify the amendments it made to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, which ‘disqualified’ all those who were already “qualified” to fill the post of Chief Justice.

But not even proposed amendments to the Public Service Act should serve as a distraction for public servants or the country. With the economy said to be in series trouble and contracting, if series and urgent corrective action that makes sense – is not taken soon – many could lose their jobs, ruling any amendment to the Public Service Act, totally irrelevant to them.

It is no secret that in it Article 1V Consultation in 2009, the IMF recommended a reduction in the wages of Central Government by 10% of GDP or slashing the Public Service by some 10,000 jobs over five years, worked out at the then numbers, as follows:

Reduction in wages of central Government by 10% of GDP (1% of GDP)

  • Wages and salaries          $195.9 million
  • Statutory     $680.6 million

$876.5  million

  • 1 GDP       $71.9 million
  • $804.6 million

This would imply a reduction of 8.2% of the wages bill in Central Government per year or 2,000 jobs per year. However should public institutions be included:

  • Central Government, wages & salaries            $876.5 million
  • Public institutions                             $390.2 million

$1266.7 million

  • Less 1% of GDP                                       $71.9 million
  • $1194.8 million

This would imply a reduction of 5.7% of the wages bill in Central Government and Statutory Boards per year or 2,000 jobs per year for five years.

I therefore urge the DLP not to listen to the IMF and again inflict more unnecessary pain on the public servants of Barbados. But I have my doubts because (with the economy contracting) already the DLP is telling Public Servants about a wage freeze, which is also an IMF recommendation.

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