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Govt making progress on austerity plan

Government is at the stage in its austerity plan where it has come up with recommendations on how to find at least 10 percent savings in each government ministry, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest told Guardian Business yesterday.

Turnquest could not say much more than that, because much of government’s findings and recommendations have not gone through Cabinet approval.

“Until we’ve gone through our Cabinet subcommittees and put the approvals through Cabinet, I really don’t want to talk about it,” said Turnquest.

He did, however, insist that these measures would not affect staffing levels at different ministries, a concern that was recently brought to the fore by the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB).

The NCTUB warned the government in a press statement last week that it was taking note of any measures that could affect workers and carefully scrutinizing them.

At the top of the NCTUB’s list was the government’s decision to “cut expenditure by 10 percent”.

Turnquest said the government is looking at its 52-week jobs program and attempting to rationalize contract workers in order to ensure the public sector does not have excessive employment with “people we don’t need or who don’t show up”.

As far as the NCTUB’s warning goes, Turnquest said: “They should have nothing to be concerned about… not at this point.”

The NCTUB statement, penned by its president, Bernard Evans, and co-signed by its general secretary, Zane Lightbourne, reminded the prime minister that many of his initiatives to “create the economic and social environment in which the talents of the Bahamian people can flourish and in which we can live in peace and prosperity” affect their members, and the NCTUB warned that those initiatives will be “subject to the scrutiny of the NCTUB”.

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