Oversight committee seeking to engage workers in public sector transformation

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Oversight committee seeking to engage workers in public sector transformation

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 27, 2017

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Co-chairman of the the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee (PSTOC) Danny Roberts says the committee has endorsed a survey that will assist in engaging public sector workers in fulfilling its mandate.

Roberts said that the survey, to be undertaken by the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute and the Mona School of Business and Management at the University of the West Indies, will allow employees to contribute openly to the discussions and the direction of organisational growth and transformation.

“This will provide the starting point for further engagement between the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee and public sector worker”, he said.

The decision was taken during the third quarterly meeting of PSTOC on July 12, which reviewed the second-quarter benchmarks and commitments under the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, as set out under the Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) between the Government of Jamaica and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

PSTOC is the broad-based committee — comprising stakeholder representatives of the public and private sectors, trade unions and academia — set up by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in November 2016 to review the Government's implementation of the public sector transformation-related activities and structural benchmarks and report to the public.

Roberts told the Jamaica Observer that the committee has taken note that all the structural benchmarks under the stand-by agreement with the IMF have been met for the month of May.

These included: (a) Identifying the positions that will be affected due to the implementation of shared corporate services in human resources; (b) instituting rules to prohibit the rehiring of participants in the early retirement programme into the public sector for at least five years; and (c) submitting to the governor general rules and standards for the Public Service Commission, for limiting the approval of continued employment after retirement age, including as contract officers.

The committee noted that the time-bound plan for the reintegration of eligible public bodies into central government, which is to be submitted to the Cabinet by the end of July, is on track.

The Government also met the structural benchmark to submit to Parliament by June 15, 2017 all necessary legislative changes to direct all earmarked revenues from three public bodies to the consolidated fund.

In fact, Parliament approved three bills last week, which will facilitate the three public entities — the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, the Tourism Enhancement Fund, and the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education — being incorporated into the Government's central operations.

The Bills require that payments to the three entities will be collected by the collector of taxes, instead of going directly to them. Their passage fulfilled the benchmark agreement with the fund.

“What it means is that we will take their budget into central Government and give them what they need [to operate],” Finance Minister Audley Shaw told the House of Representatives on July 11, when the Bills were passed.

“The committee wishes to remind the public that the structural benchmarks are critical to the success of the current IMF programme, and that the work of the Public Sector Transformation Implementation Unit has been closely monitored to ensure the removal of all obstacles that could interfere with the implementation dates,” Roberts told the Observer.

He said that the committee also reviewed the implementation schedule for the commitments under the SBA programme.

“It noted that the functions of the Agricultural Credit Board and the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies have been integrated, and that the completion of the mergers awaits the passage of the Agricultural Loan Societies and Approved Organisations legislation by Parliament,” Roberts said.

“The legislation setting up the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority has been passed. The passage of the regulations to give effect to the merger of the cocoa, coconut and coffee industry boards into the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority is to commence shortly.

He said that in the area of social protection, the committee received updates on a number of commitments, including the National Identification System, the graduation strategy for Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) householders, and the review of the impact of PATH benefits on improving school attendance.

“While the deadline for the PATH graduation strategy was met, the committee took note of the delay in the field work for the review of the impact of PATH benefits due to the rains in April and May,” Roberts added.

He said that the committee requested the earliest finalisation of the Change Management Strategy, and took note of the fact that a change management expert has to be brought on board shortly.


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