Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Grenada gov’t clarifies position on payment of allowances to civil servants

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2020 | 9:31 AM
Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell - Contributed photo

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC – The Grenada government has sought to clarify an official circular from the Department of Public Administration (DPA) which announced that, with immediate effect, the temporary suspension of the payment of responsibility and duty allowances as well as honorarium to public servants as it continues to review the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the island.

A government statement said that the “leaked internal circular does not apply to public officers who are currently receiving such allowances.”

The statement quoted Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr Keith Mitchell, as saying that the temporary suspension of payment, as indicated in the circular dated September 16, pertains to future hires.

“The temporary suspension will also apply to new requests by ministries for officers who are already in the system but are not currently receiving such allowances,” the statement quoted Mitchell as saying, adding that he had confirmed that the government continues to meet its monthly payroll obligation despite the reduction in revenue brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mitchell further stated that the government’s September payroll reflects that the allowances in question have in fact been paid.

“Government’s wage bill averages EC$26 million monthly and through our prudent fiscal management over the last few years, we have been able to honour this obligation to public officers, in a timely manner, despite the sizeable drop in revenue caused by the pandemic,” Mitchell said.

The statement said that the circular was issued by the DPA against the backdrop of the need for continued fiscal prudence in the current environment and quoted Mitchell as citing “a whole of government approach to manage discretionary spending and ensure that Government can live within its means as we navigate the global crisis.

“The Prime Minister said it is concerning that an internal Government circular has become the subject of local and regional news,” the statement noted.

“To hear on regional news that the government of Grenada has cut allowances to public servants is quite frightening. It is unfortunate that the internal circular sent to permanent secretaries has reached the public domain and that the information was misconstrued.

“We have a fundamental responsibility to treat internal circulars as what they are meant to be, internal. If there is any doubt or need for clarity, questions should be asked, but to have it reach external sources and its content twisted to cause a stir, this is quite disturbing,” Mitchell told a budget retreat on Wednesday.

Mitchell told the retreat that the terms of a contract cannot be arbitrarily changed by one party, therefore public officers should rest assured that this is not the case.

On Monday, the Caribbean Media Corporation quoted extensively from the circular in which the DPA said it is aware that ministries and government departments are sometimes limited in their human resource capacity “and will occasionally require officers to perform additional duties in conjunction with those of their substantive post, or specific duties not directly related to their substantive post.

“However, ministries/departments will appreciate that the economic impact brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled organisations everywhere to immediately review and modify their strategies and reallocate resources to meet financial and organisational objectives,” the circular noted.

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