Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Executive agencies poaching state recruits

Published:Saturday | August 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I have worked with the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) for more than 15 years, and I believe I am at the end of my rope. The inefficiencies and inadequacies that exist in the GOJ are well documented, and so I will not bore the readers with such today. What I want to address specifically is the compensation for public-sector workers and brain drain.

We are aware that the Government is restricted in its operations by the IMF's requirements. However, my issue has to do with the lack of vision from our leaders over the years. The level of staff turnover within the government service is astounding. We lose a large number of people to the private sector and emigration.

However, the latest area of brain drain is those entities set up as executive agencies. We now have a situation where central government is losing its most qualified and experienced staff to these agencies. What is the logic there? You are weakening one area of Government to strengthen another. How will that help the country as a whole?

Some ministries and their divisions will always remain with entry-level, underqualified persons, while the executive agencies continue to flourish by poaching the best talent with the promise of better compensation.

 

How did situation develop?

 

How did the GOJ allow this situation to develop? I am not at all suggesting that professionals should be paid central government-scale salaries, which, obviously, is not working. Look at our major areas of turnover: the police, nurses, teachers, persons within ministries and departments. What we need is proper compensation for these individuals. Focus on maintaining your best staff, focus on productivity, and the wage bill will pay for itself.

The Government is so intent on keeping the public sector wage bill down, at the request of the IMF, that it is missing a trick. We are losing our best people and slowing productivity.

The Government should remove the competition between agencies and central government regarding our human capital. Standardise the pay scales across Government.

If a person leaves one entity for another, let it be because he/she wants a new challenge or wants a promotion. Let it not be because he/she will double his/her salary in a similar position.

Let us not be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

D.D.