Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas has declared that in 6 months’ time the government will clean house By cutting all civil servants who have reached the retirement age of 55 years. This, he said, was just one measure of curtailing government expenditure in 2010. He said in the past the government had allowed such persons to continue their employment for a number of years past the requisite retirement age, however the situation had become unsustainable over the years. ” By September 2010 all civil servants who have reached retirement age and are still working month to month will be formally required to retire. As you are aware, the official retirement age in government is fifty-five; however on attaining the age of fifty-five most civil servants request additional years of service. This is usually because many persons have not planned properly for their retirement. All persons who have reached the age of retirement or who make a decision to take early retirement will be requested to utilize their services in a more productive manner By seeking alternative employment in our expanding private sector or By taking advantage of the many opportunities for entrepreneurship that abound in our economy.” The Honorable PM explained that the cutback on the personal emoluments bill of government would reduce payroll costs and therefore save the government over $2 million annually. The exceptions to the retirement rule as outlined By Dr. Douglas will be persons with special skills not found outside of government. “Only in very rare circumstances where it is determined that persons possess particular skills that cannot be obtained elsewhere in the public sector that persons will be hired on contract in a consultancy or advisory capacity for a specific period or on a job basis if applicable and justifiable. One of the conditions of such a contract would be the transfer of knowledge and skills to younger individuals who would assume those roles after the contract period ends.” Also highlighted in the 2010 National Budget Address was a job evaluation exercise and performance management system which will be implemented By the government’s Human Resource Management Department to facilitate the development of standardized job descriptions in all Ministries. Leader of the Opposition Hon. Mark Brantley said that although civil servants would have been aware of the 55-year cut-off, the news that seniors would be “put out to pasture” as of September must have shocked the affected persons. He also questioned the appointment of the two unsuccessful Labour candidates to advisory positions in the Ministries of Tourism and National Security and that of former Attorney General Dr. Dennis Merchant to General Counsel to the government. “We are told that they [senior civil servants] must go; either go look for work out there or start their own business. Sounds nice, but the Prime Minister’s words are not matched By the government’s actions. After the general elections of January 25th their failed candidates Dr. Norgen Wilson, who is a medical doctor, he became overnight an advisor in National Security and Cedric Liburd, who spent years in agriculture, is now an advisor in Tourism of all things. I am reliably informed that Cedric Liburd has passed the age of 55. Dr. Dennis Merchant, former Attorney General, brought back as General Counsel. “So I ask, Mr. Speaker, what is the particular skill that medical doctor Wilson has that makes him so sought after as an advisor in National Security? How does Cedric Liburd with years in agriculture qualify as a man over 55 to advise in Tourism? How is it that Dr. Dennis Merchant is not being asked, like we are asking others, to “utilize his services in a more productive manner”? Brantley said it was “obvious” that all the individuals had been “rewarded with cushy government jobs” while at the same time hardworking civil servants are being told to “pack their Georgie Bundle and go”. “If I were 55 I must legitimately ask the Prime Minister well how come you sending me home and you providing an income for Cedric? …What skill Cedric has in Tourism?” he questioned. After being accused of personally attacking the three individuals By questioning their skills set, Brantley said he was attacking “hypocrisy in the government”. He said the standard set for existing employees must also apply for persons coming into the service. “How it is that civil servants are to be summarily sent home now…and others are being brought into the government and being put on the payroll? What is the rationale?” On a Point of Order, Hon. Richard Skerritt said the rule relating to retirement is now being enforced and Brantley was attempting to create fear and discontent among civil servants. “I think it is out of order to say that civil servants are being summarily sent home,” Skerritt stated. The senior worker cut is just one of the measures to be employed By the federal government as it embarks on a belt-tightening reform. Dr. Douglas also said other areas such as outsourcing, public-private partnership and part-time workers as well as the freezing of wages and increments will be more fully explored and implemented in 2010 “as part of a comprehensive strategy for the reduction in the Government’s wage bill”. Additionally, no new positions will be approved or filled in Government “except if it can be proven that some attempt has been made to fill the position internally without the incurrence of additional expenditure”.
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