Finance secretary says ministry has done its part
PAAC told full disbursement made under new public sector compensation scheme

FINANCIAL secretary Darlene Morrison says the finance ministry has made full disbursement to all ministries and departments that are supported through the consolidated fund to enable them to pay arrears and new salaries due to employees under the new public sector compensation scheme.

The payments are to be executed in the December 2022 pay cycle.

"We have provided the full budget for compensation, to cover both the statutories and payments to individuals, so where we have indications that something has not taken place it's at the level of the ministry, department or agency," Morrison advised the Public Administrations and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) on Wednesday, during a review of the second supplementary estimates, which were tabled by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The financial secretary outlined that in the past when there are administrative issues with payments, the ministry has resolved those challenges by making the payments directly to employees: "We are now operating the MyHR+, which for the most part centralises the payments. There are a few ministries that are not on and we are working to get the full compliment unto that system".

MyHR+ is an integrated human resource and payroll system in the public sector that has been rolled out on a phased basis since January 2018.

Meanwhile, two more public sector groups have signed off on the Government's new compensation scheme, bringing the number of unions and associations which have settled to 19, Morrison advised the PAAC.

Police, teachers and medical doctors are among the 20 groups which have not yet reached an agreement with the Government. A third supplementary estimate could be tabled by January, the financial secretary indicated.

Furthermore, she explained that following the three-year adjustment period for the compensation scheme, which will account for the financial years up to 2024/25, the usual wage negotiations with union groups will resume.

"We would not be operating on a core [compensation] band. We would prefer that the [negotiation] cycle be longer than two years," she said, noting that the ministry remains in discussions on the way forward.

Parliament has now approved the $30.4 billion allocated in the second supplementary from the MoF's contingency budget across government, to facilitate back pay from April 1 to November 30, and new pay rates for approximately 60,000 central ministry employees, along with an additional one-off allocation of $1.7 billion for the University Hospital of the West Indies and the local authorities to meet operational expenses. Some 63 per cent of the one-off grant is for retroactive salaries for April to November.

This moves the approved national budget to $973.7 billion.

Also, advance payments up to a maximum of $100,000 have been approved for public bodies based on requests from those entities, and pending the finalisation of their review exercise. The new estimates come three weeks after the Government brought the first supplementary estimates for the year — for an $60 billion — to Parliament.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

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