Minister of Public Service Brensil Rolle said yesterday the government has only separated fewer than 400 people from the public service since coming to office, despite figures from the Department of Statistics revealing a 2,500-plus decrease in jobs in government and government corporations.
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet, Rolle was asked about the decrease in the number of jobs in the public service since coming to office.
Last year, he said the public service grew by 6,500 people over the previous five years, and the government’s payroll ballooned by $16.5 million in the last five months of the Christie administration’s term.
“We didn’t decrease the number specifically; what we did initially was to look at those individuals who were brought in without contract, in some cases without any knowledge of the public service generally. I’m talking about the establishment, the Ministry of Public Service,” Rolle said.
“So, those individuals who came in, who were just told to go to work, individuals whose contracts have expired and who were not working in specialized areas, those were the individuals that have been separated from service.”
Asked how many of those individuals were disengaged, Rolle said, “I can’t tell you specifically, but I know it’s less than 400 persons… in terms of persons who have been in the service.
“I’m not talking about those who retired and so forth. I’m talking about individuals who came in, who were not given any specific assignments, who were not given any letters to work, who didn’t have a contract in the service. Those are the persons that we thought we would, in the first instance, deal with.
“And we did regularize a significant number of them who were properly qualified and could contribute in some of our technical areas.”
Rolle said this action has been occurring since the Minnis administration came to office up to now.
“We are still dealing with some of those contracted individuals,” he added.
“But like I said, we see it as a positive. We are evaluating what contributions they can make, and we are trying to strategically locate them in areas where the government needs them.”
The unemployment statistics, released in January, revealed that the rise in unemployment from 9.9 percent to 10.1 percent nationally was largely attributed to a more-than-six percent reduction of jobs in the public service.
That survey provided data on the labor force as it existed during the reference period of October 30, 2017 through November 6, 2017.
According to the department, jobs in government and government corporations decreased by 2,555 jobs, or 6.3 percent — from 40,990 jobs to 38,435 jobs.
Asked about the figure, Rolle said it was not accurate.
“Absolutely not. We could not release 2,500 individuals,” he said.
“Perhaps they were talking about persons whose contract had expired, persons who were given specific dates to exit the service, persons who were engaged or were called back to the service for small service. Those are the kind of things I think people look at and try to count; and to say that we went out there and strategically disengaged 2,500 people is not factual.”
According to the public service minister, there are currently 21,000 employees in the public service.