Barbados PM: There Will Be Casualties in Restructuring, But No Callous Job Cuts

Prime Minister Mia Mottley in Parliament yesterday.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday August 15, 2018 – Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley yesterday admitted that as her government moves into the second and third phases of its plan to restructure and transform the economy, there could be no getting away from job cuts in the public sector workers.

But she is promising there won’t be any callous layoffs, and that government will make provisions to cushion the blow for those affected.

The restructuring will also go beyond job cuts, Mottley said in Parliament yesterday.

As she laid the Public Service (General) Order 2018—which paved the way for public servants to receive a five per cent wage hike—, Mottley dismissed the suggestion from former Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell on job cuts, saying her government would not be going that route.

“Five thousand or six thousand people are not five thousand or six thousand mangoes on a tree to be picked. They are people who have responsibilities to themselves and their families, and I say to you that whatever else is done, the structure of Government has to follow the purpose of Government,” she said.

“Will there be some consequences to people? Of course there will be. I’m not going to stand here and fool anybody. But will the consequences be of the magnitude of four and five and six thousand jobs? No, there will not be. Equally, we appreciate that there are some people who may say, ‘look, I have reached 60 years old; the circumstances of my family are such, or the circumstances of my health are such, that I would rather take my leave now and go into voluntary separation on a platform to be negotiated and settled with the Social Partnership and unions in particular…All of that will be presented to the country, so I want to give the people of Barbados the assurance that we got this.”

Mottley added that those who will be impacted by the cuts will be assisted by government.

In fact, she said she would take special interest in those people. A special unit is to be set up in her office – “because I’m not asking anybody to take responsibility for caring” – to work with those “victims of restructuring”.

Mottley said consideration would be given to using a series of measures, including access to government land for farming and access to licences, to help cushion the impact.

She added that “affirmative action” on government procurement may also be used in this effort.

The Prime Minister said that within two weeks, her government will be speaking to the people of Barbados about “what we believe to be the road map for phase 2 and phase 3 under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Programme”.

The restructuring will also include bringing order to millions of dollars in transfers to public entities.

Suggesting that there would be an overhaul of debt-ridden state agencies, Prime Minister Mottley said it will not be business as usual at statutory corporations.

She said the government could no longer afford the drain on the public purse, and disclosed that state enterprises were now required to present to the Ministry of Finance their accounts for analysis within five days of the previous month.

“There are a few who believe that a habit is not to be developed of this practice and that having done it two months in a row that they should not do it a third. It shall not happen under this Government. There will be discipline on the part of all those who will be entrusted with the funds of the taxpayers to manage in this country,” she said.

“There will be a meeting next week Tuesday with all of the finance officers of Government, all of the Permanent Secretaries, all of the chairmen, general managers and finance officers of statutory corporations because regrettably the practice of how we manage and handle our affairs, down to our reporting of banking, has fallen into shambles and it therefore means that the Accountant General is not in a position to give the kind of information we need in order to make the kind of decisions that we need to make in a timely manner,” Mottley, who is also Minister of Finance, added.

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