Gov’t saves $277M in employment cost after integrating 4,000 contract workers into public service

Permanent Secretary of the Department of Public Service Reginald Brotherson recently revealed that government has transitioned 4,000 former contract workers to the fixed establishment and the Auditor General’s (AG’s) 2016 Report has recorded unspent balances of $276.8 million due to the transfers.

The $276 million is a large part of the $410.6 million in unspent balances realised from Employment Cost, according to the report.

The AG’s report, laid in Parliament last Thursday, noted that Central Government’s current expenditure was under the 2016 budgetary allocation by $2.868 billion.

AG Deodat Sharma attributed this outturn to expenditure being significantly under the budgeted allocation by various Ministries, while the Ministry of Finance recorded the outturn at $2.9 billion.

In its response, it explained that unspent allocations included a sum of $1.3 billion allocated under Public Debt. This was due to less than anticipated disbursement for new and disbursing loans from creditors such as Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Development Association-World Bank (IDA), Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Eximbank of India and Caricom Development Fund (CDF) in 2016.

This is in addition to the $410.6 million unspent on employment and unspent allocations for other Goods and Services, due mainly to students from several schools not uplifting uniform vouchers of $324.9 million, and $400.5 million in dietary expenditure being unspent due to the reduced members in Cyril Potter College of Education dormitory students.

Further, the Citizenship and Immigration Services retendered for the computerisation of records, however, there were no successful bidders in 2016, and transfer payments variance from budgeted allocation was due to a significant number of public assistance and old age pension recipients not encashing their 2016 vouchers in 2016. The Elections Commission’s unspent balance of $476.2 million was due to the absence of a Chairman since August, 2016 which prevented the Commission from fully executing its budget work programme.

For Capital Expenditure, 89.3% of the approved allotment of $52.183 billion was spent.

The Ministry of Finance noted that the outcome was weak due to a subpar performance, including a 73.7% execution rate on donor support portfolio projects, particularly project grants, where total expenditure was $3.056 billion against an approved allocation of $5.625 billion.

“Some key contributing factors were the delay in award of contracts for two critical infrastructural projects in the water and power sectors which resulted in approximately $3.4 billion in unutilised funds,” the ministry noted in response to the AG’s observations.

However, the performance of the domestically financed investment programme was strong, with an execution rate of 100.4%, aided by strict monitoring and reprogramming of projected underexpenditure on the initial programme.

“Also, contributing to this strong overall performance was supplementary provisions approved in the sum of $2.757 billion for domestically financed projects, particularly in the infrastructure sector, and $5.367 billion in relation to additional inflows for foreign funded projects that performed better than anticipated,” the report states.

Overall, the AG recorded a $20.310 billion deficit for the year ended 31 December, 2016, with current surplus at $6.630 billion, while the capital deficit was $26.940 billion.

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