Sumner: Govt. should revisit size of cabinet, public service hiring freeze

Edison Sumner. (Photo credit: Donald Knowles)

Despite efforts to balance the country’s books and slash government expenses, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation CEO, Edison Sumner, told reporters yesterday that the Minnis Administration has more work to do if they want to get the country’s fiscal house in order and suggested the prime minister begin with, what Sumner calls, a bloated Cabinet.

“The government has to look at it self and determine whether the size of government… is the ideal size they need to operate,” he said. “… to see if there are people needed. To justify hiring people but if you think that your government services are overstaffed then maybe you need to do some corrections there as well.”

During a press conference to announce its upcoming State of the Economy Report, Sumner explained the current cabinet is almost the same size as the previous Christie administration, which he says, can no doubt put a strain on the public purse. It is an issue the current administration has in the past criticised the former government for.

At the beginning of the current fiscal period, Sumner and the Confederation threw its support behind the conservative measures of the Minnis administration in particular, the hiring freeze in the public service. However, the Chamber now questions whether that freeze should be lifted.

“We agreed with the freeze on hiring to the extent to allow the government to complete their human resources audit,” said Sumner. “We know that throughout a number of ministries, they have begun looking at their own internal human resource needs and doing assessment on what they have as opposed to what they need and also looking at how we manage the cost in government because the government has been running some large costs in some overruns in some of the projects in the past several years and so we supported the idea of putting a freeze on it for a period.

“But we cannot stop spending money in the economy. So we still have to hire people, we still have to spend money on capital development, spend money on human resource development because when we stop spending money, we start taking things about recession.”

Sumner said it is important that the government assess its own needs and ensure that everyone working in the Cabinet and the public sector are necessary.