The Local Government Commission (LGC) was forced to shut its doors on Friday after the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities refused to countersign documents to release funds for salaries and other expenses.
Chairman of the Commission, Mortimer Mingo together with the other Commissioners engaged media operatives on Friday, where he noted that it has been 65 days since salaries were last paid to employees. As a result of the lack of other financial resources, some utility services were also disconnected. He said that the LGC has exhausted all avenues to address the matter.
Despite the budget of the constitutional body being approved by Parliament, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Emil McGarrell said that the 2019 budget for salaries was not in agreement with that of public service workers, hence he would not sign-off for payments.
“The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communities advised that he would be unable to affix his signature for the adjustment of the Commissioners’ emoluments…It then became apparent, by a way of a letter received by the Commission from the Deputy Permanent Secretary… that the Ministry was not in agreement with the level of pay that the Commission’s staff was receiving since according to the letter, these salaries were not in keeping with the traditional Public Sector emoluments.”
As such, the LGC opted to settle the matter through a meeting with McGarrell on January 28 but the Permanent Secretary did not withdraw his decision of not signing the documents.
With support from fellow Commissioners, Mingo stressed that these salaries were effective from July last and no objections were made by the Finance Ministry prior to the letter. Mingo also stated that the agency is not a traditional public service agency, but a constitutional agency with an experienced and qualified workforce.
Mingo also took the time to clear some of the misleading facts that were pe
ddled by the Ministry as to why they were not paid.
“The salary that we are paying to our staff was being paid in 2018 from July of 2018 with no query, with no objection from the Ministry of Finance nor the Ministry of Communities…As the Local Government Commission, we [want to] bear the facts to the public and to correct some of the misleading statements that was being articulated by the Ministry of Communities,” he explained.
The Commission had submitted a sum of $305 million for capital and operations, inclusive of salaries. However, this was reduced to $124 million for capital and $13 million for recurrent expenses.
Because of the cutbacks, they were forced to rework the allocation programme to suit the budgetary allocation. The proposed budget would have catered for the employment of new recruits and an upgrade to their operations.