JUMPING THE GUN: Rolle announces new hires but backtracks shortly after, says nothing is confirmed

JUMPING THE GUN: Rolle announces new hires but backtracks shortly after, says nothing is confirmed
Minister of the Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While he initially announced that individuals on the government’s 52-week program would become permanent and pensionable this year, National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle backtracked those comments, insisting that the matter remains under consideration for finalization.

During his presentation for the mid-year budget debate yesterday, Rolle said: “I can now announce that persons on the program who have been performing their jobs in an exceptional way can look forward this year to move into the permanent and pensionable position.”

He noted that there are roughly 600-plus vacancies in the Ministry of Public Service in any given year.

“We took the position that we will build back better and in doing that we determined that all of those individuals who are on the 52-week program who are performing their duties in an acceptable way, will be given an opportunity to have a career in the government and they will be hired as permanent workers for the government of The Bahamas,” Rolle added.

The government’s National Job Creation and Skills Enhancement Programme, better known as the 52-week job programme, started in August 2018 and came to an end on June 30, 2019.

Hundreds of participants were later re-engaged in the initiative.

During the 2019/2020 budget debate, Rolle noted that the government had re-engaged 1,600 people to the public service since coming into office in 2017.

He indicated that at that time there had been 336 new appointments on temporary, month-to-month terms or on 12 months’ probation; 249 appointments to the permanent and pensionable establishment; 422 confirmations on appointments, 1,217 re-employments; and 53 engagements on contract.

It is unclear how many workers would be made permanent and pensionable.

However, Rolle noted this would include janitresses, school board employees, teacher’s aids, librarians and others.

He said some 1,500 workers in the Ministry of Education will be confirmed, with some 604 having already received their advancements.

He added that the same mission will be carried out in other ministries, including the Department of Social Services and the Department of Local Government.

“Every single Bahamian who has performed at an acceptable level in the service will get an opportunity to be considered as a member of the permanent staff within the ministries,” he said.

Nearing the end of his presentation, Rolle sought to clarify that while the move is in the works, the decisions have still not been completed.

“I may have also misspoken when I may have led to the conclusion that in all of these agencies a final decision has been determined,” he said.

“I just want to take the position and advise the public that all of the decisions about the various classes of individuals in the service who are on temporary positions, or on contracts in the government agencies, they are matters that are under consideration and some of them have not been finalized.

“I want to make sure I did not mislead and want to ensure individuals know what we are doing.”