The Christopher Ram-owned Ram & McRae had initially observed in its review of this year’s Budget – Budget Focus 2016 – that the number of contract workers under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration along with the total employment costs had skyrocketed.
Chartered Accounting Firm Ram & McRae is calling on the David Granger-led Administration to put an end to the subverting of the Public Service by the practice of employing large numbers of contract workers who are remunerated with exorbitant salaries and benefits.
Government through Minister of State Joseph Harmon, and Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, had both responded to the reports, insisting that the number had not increased so drastically, but rather it was a miscalculation of Ram & McRae.
In a statement on Monday, however, the chartered accounting firm insists that its calculations were correct.
“Minister of State Joseph Harmon sought to attribute the increase in the Ministry of the Presidency to organisational changes and posited that the Office of the President cannot be compared to the Ministry of State, which now includes the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Ministry of Citizenship, and the Public Service Department.”
In fact, Ram & McRae was not comparing the Ministry of the Presidency with the Office of the President, but comparing the two year-end numbers (2015 and Budget 2016) in the same Ministry.
“It appears that Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman may have been under the same impression and called such an increase virtually impossible, adding that the Ministry of Natural Resources, which was recently designated a separate Ministry, was also included within the Ministry of the Presidency until January 2016,” Ram & McRae clarified.
The Accounting Firm reiterated that it was disappointed about the increases in both the number and cost of contract employees, noting once again that it was not healthy for the country’s democracy and such practice put under strain Article 38 G of the Constitution which requires the Public Service to be free from political influence.
The company noted nonetheless that the problem started under the previous Administration, and expressed confidence in the present Government to put an end to the practice.
“Between 2010 and 2014, the expenditure on contract employees rose from $4.7 billion to $9.4 billion, an increase of 100 per cent… We sincerely believe that President Granger has the authority to end this abuse. We look to him to act on the matter,” the Firm stated.
The number of contractual employees under the coalition Government not only grew by 16 per cent but the total employment costs for all the Ministries amounted to a whopping $30.5 billion.
In fact, contract employees have increased in all Ministries except for the Foreign Affairs and Legal Affairs Ministries, with the Office of the Prime Minister (Moses Nagamootoo) capitalising on a 73 per cent increase in the number of contract workers who are budgeted to pocket a total of approximately $82 million at the end of the year, an increase of over 280 per cent compared to the 2015.
For the Ministry of the Presidency, contract employees have jumped from 298 to 505; in the Finance Ministry from 162 to 167; Indigenous Affairs Ministry, 72 to 79; Agriculture Ministry, 248 to 274; Tourism Ministry, 31 to 40; Business Ministry, 30 to 40; Natural Resources Ministry, 38 to 56; Public Infrastructure Ministry, 271 to 294; Education Ministry, 601 to 691; Communities Ministry, 55 to 62; Public Health Ministry, 1303 to 1400; Social Protection Ministry, 369 to 371 and Public Security Ministry, 239 to 248, while the newly-introduced Public Telecommunications Ministry contracted 122 employees.
Consequently, the total employment costs for all of the Ministries climbed from around $12 billion to in excess of $30 billion, a radical increase of 147 per cent when compared to the previous year.
Moreover, although there was a decrease in the number of contract workers in the Foreign Affairs and Legal Affairs Ministries, their employment costs have risen by a considerable eight per cent.