The flip side of the government’s attrition policy was revealed during the debate in the Senate on the 2015 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure as presented by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in November.
Labour Representative in the Senate, Raymond Roberts told the upper house that government was using the attrition policy to engage in out sourcing and contracting out jobs.
During the presentation of the 2015 budget, Prime Minister Mitchell reiterated that the Cabinet of Ministers had approved an attrition policy for the public service, and as a first step in its implementation, the plan was to abolish 90% of all vacant posts.
According to Dr. Mitchell, the 2015 budget provides for 5,181 positions in the public service which includes 4,917 permanent and 264 unestablished, compared with 5,603 in 2014 and 5, 339 permanent and 264 unestablished in 2014 which represents a net reduction of 422.
However, during the debate in the Upper House of Parliament on the budget, Sen. Roberts said indications are that many of the 422 posts removed from the public service will be outsourced.
He said the Labour Movement views the outsourcing of jobs as a means of exploiting the workers in Grenada, and he does not believe that outsourcing of jobs is always the best methods of utilizing taxpayers money.
Sen. Roberts told the Senate that prior to the removal of the 422 positions in the public service, government held no consultation with the Public Workers Union (PWU) which is the bargaining agent for public servants.
He believes that the removal of several of the positions through attrition could seriously affect the quality of service provided to the people of Grenada.
In the health sector, Sen. Roberts exposed a number of positions that have been rooted out and several others that are receiving very little budgetary support.
He quoted from page 331 of the budget book which shows that the position of the Director of Mental Health was being chopped at a time where there is a growing problem of mental health in the country.
Other areas in the health sector that are affected by attrition include the Quality Improvement Co-ordinator which is removed as well as the Medical Office of Health Epidemiology, and Chief Pharmacist, while the School of Nursing is down to receive a token budget of $10 for the 2015 fiscal year..
He also quoted the 2015 budget as providing only $10.00 for the Psychiatrist, House Officers, Psychologist, and the Occupational Therapist at the Mt. Gay Mental Hospital.
In addition, at that same medical institution, the positions of Health Service Administrator and Medical Officer have been removed by the Mitchell government.
Sen. Roberts also pointed out that at the Princess Royal Hospital in Carriacou, the budget for a House Officer, Health Service Administrator, and also for the Senior Nursing Officer has been reduced to only $10.00
He said that at the Princess Alice Hospital in Mirabeau, St. Andrews there is no budget for the Physician specialist, while a budget of $10 is provided for the Registrar and Food Service Supervisor.
The labour representative in the Senate also alluded to the fact that the 2015 budget has sliced the budget for health promotion to just $10, while the position of Surveillance Officer at the General Hospital is also budgeted at $10.
According to Sen. Roberts the health situation is also glaring as the Midwifery program at the General Hospital has been cut by the near two year old NNP administration of Dr. Mitchell.
There is also a budget of $10 for the post of Senior Dental Health Officer while the Director of Ear, Nose and Throat has been eliminated from the service.
Sen. Roberts also pointed out that a number of positions in both the Ministries of Education and Agriculture has also been chopped from the 2015 budget.
Speculation is rife in some local circles that the Mitchell government will have to engage in massive retrenchment of workers in order to significantly cut down expenditure as it seeks to grapple with a severe fiscal problem plaguing the island’s finances.