Below is a commentary by a former Health Minister under the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Leslie Ramsammy as it pertains to Government funding and transferal of Ministry of Health (MOH) doctors from contract employment to the pensionable establishment:
APNU+AFC is engaging in gimmicks and trickery in the employment of doctors. The Ministry of Health has been transferring all doctors employed as contract employees unto the pensionable establishment. For those doctors whose contracts are ending, they are being re-employed under the pensionable establishment. All new doctors are now also being employed under the pensionable establishment. There might be a good reason for this but unfortunately this is being done for all the wrong reasons.
Whatever the reason, financial provisions need to be made. An examination of the Ministry of Health’s budget for 2017 reveals that the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health have made inadequate provisions for the doctors in the Ministry of Health’s employ. An examination of the Regional Health Budgets for 2017 will also reveal that no provisions were made in those budgets to cover employment costs of GMOs [General Medical Officers]. An examination of the appropriate line item for the Ministry of Health shows that the amount allocated for 2017 is not adequate for the number of GMOs in the employment of the Ministry of Health. The sum allocated in the appropriate line item will, in fact, be fully expended by June, if the employment statistics provided in Budget 2017 is accurate.
To complicate matters for doctors who were previously on the pensionable establishment, budgetary provisions were provided in the wrong line item, as salary provisions were made under contracted employees. But for the newly appointed doctors in 2016 and 2017, including the 79 newly appointed GMOs in 2017, no provision was made, either in the line item covering employees under the pensionable establishment or under contracted employees.
Come July, therefore, the sums allocated in both the line items for GMOs under the pensionable establishment or the contracted GMOs (which should be none) will be fully consumed and doctors in the Ministry of Health’s employment will be faced with the possibility of late payments. I suppose the government will apply for a virement to shift resources wrongly placed under contracted employees, but as I sated before this is adequate to cover the expected needs. The Ministry of Health will require a supplementary budget to cover the period July to December. This is a situation that should not arise and represents gross incompetency.
Earlier I suggested the move to employ GMOs under the pensionable establishment was done for all the wrong reasons. The PPP had its reasons for employing GMOs as contracted employees. APNU+AFC changed the policy and, in itself, the change is a good one. But APNU+AFC shifted the GMOs from contracted to pensionable category as a gimmick to hide the fact they have been employing a large number of people as contracted employees throughout the public service. Budget 2017 shows a significant increase in contracted employees at much higher salaries. In less than two years the number of contracted employees has surged by more than 2,000, in spite of them shifting GMOs and other contracted employees into the pensionable categories. In fact, the number is much larger than this because, in addition, there are also new contracted employees who replaced those shifted into the pensionable establishment, including the GMOs. It is gimmick, not good policy.
This is the same APNU+AFC which had been critical of the PPP for employing contracted employees. Year after year, they attacked the PPP and called the use of contracted employees as “jobs for the boys”. Now in government, not only have they not kept their promise to reduce and eliminate the category of contracted employees, but they have expanded it. The trickery is even more despicable because the salaries of the persons shifted from the contracted category were significantly less than the ones being employed as contracted employees. I challenge the government to publish the figure for the number of persons who earn more than $500,000 per month today compared to December 2015. If they dare to publish that figure it will shock everyone.
Dr Leslie Ramsammy