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Former Barbados PM calls for cuts in Cabinet

Govt plans to cut 30,000 public service workers next year

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 | 5:29 PM    

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur Tuesday suggested that the government considers cutting back on Cabinet portfolios as well as social entitlement programmes as it contemplates sending home 3,000 public workers next year.

The Freundel Stuart government said the layoffs were necessary as the island grapples with an ailing economy.

But Arthur, a former finance minister, told BARBADOS TODAY news that the prime minister should immediately cut the size of the Cabinet and examine other options.

He described the current 20-member Cabinet as the largest and most ineffective in the island’s history and recommended that some ministers be dismissed as government seeks to reign in its spending by sending home public workers.

 “Before it comes to cuts, and it may eventually have to come to that, do all the other things that are necessary. Stop asking the public to pay for the political programmes of the (ruling) Democratic Labour Party.”

Arthur, an economist, said in the very week the government was announcing the cut in the public service, it was “spending money on the David Thompson Memorial Football (competition). Cut out that,” he added.

On Monday, Prime Minister Stuart promised that his administration would undertake a “careful analysis” before deciding on the cuts in the public service.

The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), which represents the majority of public servants here, said it would hold a meeting with its membership on Thursday before making any public statement on the retrenchment of workers announced last week by Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler.

Sinckler said that the government would trim the public service as well as reduce by 10 per cent the salaries of ministers, government legislators, parliamentary secretaries and those considered to be a “political appointee”.

Sinckler said that the plan to cut public service jobs would result in the government saving as much as DBS$143 million (One BDS dollar = US$0.50 cents) and that the government had also agreed to institute a “strict programme of attrition” across the central public service, filling posts only where it is absolutely unavoidable, over the next five years, ending 2018-2019.

“This attrition is expected to reduce central government employment levels from approximately 16 970 to 14, 612 jobs – a projected loss of 2 358 posts; and savings of BDS$121 million. Over the current 19-month adjustment period public sector employment will be reduced by an additional 501 jobs with a projected savings of BDS$26 million,” he added.

The government said that the first 2 000 job cuts would take place by January 15, followed by others by March 1.

Arthur told the website that two of the biggest supplementary budgets were brought to Parliament this year, adding “and government says it doesn’t have money.

“Expenditures for summer camps, these things are means by which the Democratic Labour Party is feeding the appetite of its own supporters for contracts.”

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