Critical gov’t staff sent on vacation together — Flax-Charles
Critical members of staff in at least one government department have reportedly been sent on vacation together in recent weeks, creating an inconvenient situation for members of the public.
This situation has prompted Junior Trade Minister Shereen Flax-Charles to call for refresher courses for the entire civil service to help improve its level of efficiency.
She argued in the House of Assembly recently that this needs to be done for public servants who are in management positions as well as those who are below management.
“We have situations where revenue collecting agencies are closed. Persons meet me on the street. ‘I cannot get into [the] Trade [Department], because there’s no cashier’. At the busiest collection time. How is this possible?” Flax-Charles asked.
The Department of Trade issued a notice over consecutive days recently indicating that it could not accept payments because of the absence of a cashier, but offered no further explanation for this.
Not throwing anyone under the bus
Meanwhile, Flax-Charles suggested that the government’s human resources system and its ‘use it or lose it’ policy may need to be examined.
The first-term legislator argued that three or four cashiers went on vacation simultaneously, leaving one cashier to service customers. But then Murphy’s Law — a condition where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong — took place and the remaining cashier got sick, meaning the Trade Department collected no revenue for days.
“What happens to that person that came from Anegada [or] Jost Van Dyke?” Flax-Charles asked. “Are they going to have to pay to come back to Tortola? Are they going to have to pay a penalty because they can’t get back within a certain time?”
Flax-Charles argued that while she was not trying to throw anyone under the proverbial bus, the government could not afford to ‘play around’ when trying to generate revenue and needs to do better, particularly since it cannot pay its bills if it is unable to generate revenue.
“If we do not generate that revenue we cannot pay our bills. We cannot help our people. Every day persons are coming needing assistance and we are unable to help them. But if we are more efficient we will be able to help more people. We will be able to prioritise,” she added.