More public-sector layoffs possible

Deputy Prime and Minister of Finance, Peter Turnquest.

Public servants hired under the former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) are now facing more possible layoffs, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.

The pending public-sector cuts are said to be a part of government’s efforts to streamline annual expenditure.

Turnquest’s comments came on the heels of a recent report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which suggested the government slash $240 million in public spending.

The finance minister told Eyewitness News Tuesday, that the IMF report came as no surprise. In fact, according to Turnquest, the government has been readying itself to make additional public-sector rollbacks.

“This is something we knew since we came to office,” Turnquest said.

“We consistently said that the former administration bumped up the public service to unsustainable levels. We have been trying to rationalize the new hires and those who are on contracts. We are working to move those persons off the public payroll in an orderly way to give those involved a safe landing. We will continue to try to do that.”

Turnquest did however, point out that the government remained mindful about new hires as well.

“We continue to be cautious about hiring and trying to rationalize services; trying to move around people within the public service to ensure that people are getting value for money and that people are being productive,” he said.

“One of the unfortunate things about these contracts that have been given out under the PLP, is that there were no career paths laid out for these people. They were just in low paid, minimum wage jobs, with no hope of being hired and no future. So, we are trying to see how we can restructure that and rationalize it and bring the civil service back into some kind of order, and put these people in productive positions so they can have a chance at long term employment.”

While government works to restructure and rationalize its current public-sector workforce, Turnquest said it will also focus on enhancing its job empowerment program as well.

“There are others in the public sector that we are trying to train to make sure that the job empowerment program is actually effective. Because, until this point, it has just been a place to park people,” he said.

“We want to make it a true empowerment program so that at the end of the 52 weeks, they have some skill that they can go into the private or public sector and contribute in a meaningful way.”

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