Govt: Pensions are legally due to re-engaged public servants

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) last night defended the Davis administration’s decision to hire two retired public officers, and to allow them to still receive their pensions.

“As we transition into government, the Davis administration, like many administrations which preceded it, has decided to re-engage two former senior public officials out of retirement,” OPM said in a statement,

“Their expertise and long years of experience in the public sector are invaluable in guiding us through the kind of systemic changes which we have promised to deliver for the Bahamian people.

“Along with their salaries, they are being paid the pensions which are due to them for their long years of previous service. The pensions are legally and rightly due to them for this past service and continue irrespective of future employment. This is not a new policy.”

The statement came after a memo was leaked revealing that the two retirees will collect salaries on top of their pensions after being brought back to the public service by the new administration.

The Office of the Prime Minister described the leak as “political mischief-making” that caused public anxiety.

“Despite their public utterances, the FNM administration under Hubert Minnis implemented the same policy,” OPM said.

“Only with characteristic favoritism and complete indifference to ordinary Bahamians, they applied the policy just to the favored few, canceling it for all other workers. The Davis administration does not support the unequal application of this policy.”

It said the Davis administration believes that all re-engaged public officers should be treated “fairly and equally”.

 As a result, according to OPM, a decision was made to return to a previous policy that allows all re-engaged public officers to receive their pension.

“The end result is a payment policy that is equitable for all,” it said.

“This is not a policy under which scores of retirees will be brought back into the public service. The process by which such public officers will be engaged is selective.

“It is merit-based and focused on filling assessed skills gaps, meaning that by definition it will be used infrequently.”

OPM said Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and his government are committed to principles of fairness, transparency and accountability in public service.

It said the government is consulting widely and is engaging the brightest and best to address “the enormous challenges” facing the country.

“As we wrestle with the health and economic crises we have inherited from the previous administration, we need all hands on deck if we are to overcome these challenges and put the country on a path to good health and prosperity,” OPM said.

In November 2017, then Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle announced that all retired civil servants who were re-engaged by the government would have their pensions stopped as the government attempted to “unclog” the public sector.

The policy was implemented in 2007 under the Ingraham administration.

 “For example, if your pension is $50,000 and the position that we’re offering is $70,000, we’ll pay you the difference as opposed to someone getting a salary and a pension,” Rolle said.

“The primary reason why we are doing that is to not only add some structure to the public service but to make sure those persons who are talented in the service would get an opportunity to be promoted.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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