British Virgin Islands

Thursday, Oct 22, 2020

'I don't like to see people fired but...'- Premier Fahie on public service

With an already bloated civil service that devours a major portion of recurrent expenses, Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie has said he is unwilling to unnecessarily increase the public service, a stance he said may gain him some unpopularity.

"When you say no, they are going to tell people Fahie is a dictator," the Premier said on Friday, December 13, 2019, during the budget debate at the House of Assembly (HoA).

"I have seen the public service over my years in public office grown by this philosophy – give me this person here and we will be able to grow revenue – and you give them the person, and then they come back, and they tell you this person need a secretary."

The Premier said the cycle then continues with a string of new positions in the public service.

He continued: "Then they come back, and they tell you that the secretary needs a secretary and then they tell you that the secretary, who get the secretary, need a messenger; and then they come back and tell you that the secretary who gets the secretary who gets the messenger, the messenger needs a messenger."

Employees not being disciplined

Meanwhile, Premier Fahie said there was another area of contention that he had to disclose to the HoA.

"Another area that I have told those in charge of the public service is that people aren't doing their work [and] they don't discipline them. I don't like to see people fired but if they ain't working what else you could do? Yet they put them on the side, create a new position, increase the recurrent, and here we go again."

"It cannot continue that way and you fighting this and the very people who you explaining this to all the time are the ones who come right back at you saying that they have some new plans to help the service to do better, but it is going to require some new posts," he stated.

Civil servants payroll unsustainable

It was on October 24, 2017 that Mr Claude O. Skelton-Cline, while on his radio show Honestly Speaking on ZBVI 780 AM, had noted that the Territory's budget showed the payroll for government was $10M per month, which equated to $120M per year and represented 40% of the annual budget.

Mr Skelton-Cline described the payroll as unsustainable and "needs to be fixed."

The talk show host suggested that among the things can be done to cut expenditure are to send home civil servants brought out of retirement, offer more opportunities for early retirement and cut down on sending persons on extended leave of absence.

Mr Skelton-Cline was also in agreement that leadership should take a pay cut too once civil servants are to suffer a pay cut.

Oversized public service

Speaking on the 3-D Show on ZBVI 780 AM on Friday February 11, 2017 host Doug Wheatley had said some people came to him to voice some of their concerns about the oversized public service.

“They feel like the civil service is oversized, and they feel that there are too many persons in all of these government offices and wondering if really there is enough work to keep all of them busy all the time. Or whether there is only enough work to keep them busy for four hours or five hours and the other three or whatever the number is they don’t really have anything to do?” he asked.

Mr Wheatley had also stated that the people believe there should be another way to handle the too large-a- public service in the Virgin Islands.

“…And yet the cost of the public service is very high, the operations of government take a sizeable chunk out of the budget of the country and there are wondering if there is another way that can be handled rather than having such a large public service?”


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