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7,000 public-sector posts to be abolished

Published:Thursday | February 21, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Devon Rowe

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

SOME 7,000 public-sector posts are to be eliminated by March 2014, a Ministry of Finance document indicates.

The fiscal policy paper for the financial year 2012-2013 - interim report - which was laid in Parliament last week, indicates that in addition to 3,000 posts, which were abolished in September, the Government is planning to abolish another 3,000.

Further, the Government said it does not intend to fill another 1,000 positions that will become vacant due to natural attrition during financial year 2013-2014.

3,000 posts eliminated

Devon Rowe, the financial secretary, said the removal of the 7,000 posts does not mean job losses. He said like the 3,000 posts that have already been eliminated, another 3,000 posts which are to be removed from the wider public sector by the end of financial year 2012-2013 are unoccupied.

"It is really about cleaning up the public sector so that the size of the public sector does not grow, and it will eliminate any tendency for unnecessary waste," Rowe told The Gleaner.

With Jamaica's wage bill as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) running at $147.6 billion this year, or 10.9 per cent of GDP, the Government has committed to the International Monetary Fund that it intends to lower the ratio to nine per cent by March 2016.

But based on data presented in the document, the wage-GDP bill will barely fall from 10.9 per cent this year to 10.6 per cent when the 7,000 posts are removed.

According to the ministry document, wage as a percentage of GDP is expected to fall to 9.7 per cent at the end of March 2015, and then 9.0 per cent by March 2016.

"Achieving a wage-to-GDP ratio of nine per cent by 2015-2016 is predicated on the basis that efforts are under way so that wages will be contained over the period, and that there will be some growth in GDP," Rowe told The Gleaner.

However, Oneil Grant, president of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, said the unions have not agreed to a wage freeze, adding that discussions are taking place on how to move forward.

The country's GDP is currently estimated at $1.35 trillion and is expected to increase to $1.66 trillion at the end of March 2015, and then $1.84 trillion by March 2016.

In the meantime, it remains unclear whether the Government would still be pushing ahead with plans to axe 10,000 jobs from the public sector by March 2016.

Last October, Cabinet secretary, Ambassador Douglas Saunders, told Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee that the removal of the 3,000 posts one month earlier was separate from the 10,000 posts which former Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced would have been cut from the establishment over the next five years, as part of the public sector Master Rationalisation Programme.