NASSAU, The Bahamas — Public Service Officers are set to receive $1,200 added to their annual salary in addition to their normal increment this fiscal period, the Minister of the Public Service the Hon Shane Gibson confirmed in his 2016/17 Budget Communication.
During the Budget Debate in the House of Assembly on June 16, Minister Gibson said the increase is in accordance with the 2013 Bahamas Public Service Union Industrial Agreement with the Government.
The agreement also calls for salary scales to be extended by two increments during this period, 2016/17. These salary benefits will be extended to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Department of Corrections, senior managers in the Public Service including the Secretary to the Cabinet, Financial Secretary, Auditor General, and Permanent Secretaries.
In accordance with the Industrial Agreements for theBahamas Union of Teachers and the Bahamas Educators’ and Managerial Union, teachers and public school administrators will receive increases equivalent to two increments in addition to their normal increment added to their salary during this fiscal period.
Also during this fiscal period, as mentioned by the Prime Minister in his Budget Communication, the services of workers in the Public Service will be integrated to bring that number to an irreducible minimum. This will include regularising the services of over 2,500 temporary officers who are paid weekly and monthly as well as contract officers earning minimum wage.
“Thanks to our experienced Government negotiators, assisted by Acting First Assistant Secretary, Lavado Duncanson, we have now completed the industrial agreement with the Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Union. It now joins the list of those Industrial Agreements that I mentioned in the Mid-year Budget. Negotiations with the BahamasCustoms Immigration and Allied Workers Union, and the Doctors Union are still ongoing – the latter being close to completion,” Minister Gibson said.
He noted that the Ministry of Public Service, which is charged with multiple human resources, establishment, policy and other responsibilities, is overwhelmed by the volume of work for the number of staff members in most of the units.
“However, they often work long hours into the evenings and weekends to get the job done.”
In this vein, one of the goals is to increase the number of staff in the Ministry and the Public Service with the requisite skills to facilitate the workloads and demands being experienced, the Minister said.
The Public Service Commission has processed over 550 promotions during the 2015/2016 fiscal year. This includes 255 individuals who were promoted in the clerical grade during the Service Wide Promotion Exercise. Over 300 appointments inclusive of the appointment of 172 teachers and teachers’ aides were also processed.
Minister Gibson reported that The Short-term Policy Unit established in the Ministry of the Public Service in July 2015 and led by Deputy Permanent Secretary, Bridgette Hepburn has completed its review of the policies and wide consultation with Human Resources Managers in stakeholder ministries.
The document is being finalised before being submitted for approval, after which it will be released on-line.
“This should go a long way in regularising the way in which we address those matters affecting public officers in terms of fairness, equity and objectivity. Soon to be completed is the Post Qualifications Manual resulting in equity of qualifications for similar posts as best we can, and making Public Service career paths available to public officers and the private sector alike, particularly high school and college students,” he said.
Concurrently, this Short-Term Policy Unit has begun its evolution to the Policy, Planning, Research and Development Unit responsible for ensuring the review and currency of policies and career paths, undertaking research, and the collection and analysis of data necessary to make informed decisions.
In 2015, the Government commissioned a study, through the Commonwealth Secretariat (COMSEC), for a review of the Public Service. This study showed that there is a need to concentrate on, among other things, governance, greater use of technology, succession planning for the public service, training at mid management and senior levels as well as greater inter-ministerial collaboration.
In light of this, it is anticipated that $1 million will be needed in 2016/2017 to foster these developments.
The 2015 COMSEC Diagnostic Study of the Public Service rightly stated that “it is vital that [leaders] are selected for the future and not against the present requirements,” Minister Gibson quoted.
He announced that the Ministry of the Public Service eagerly awaits the implementation of the Inter-American Development Bank Public Sector Reform Project. This will cause the more efficient response by Human Resources Units to the increasing demands of managing and developing the skills of officers.
Minister Gibson also reported on the areas he is responsible for namely: the Ministry of the Public Service and the Ministry of Labour and National Insurance; a portfolio, which includes the Department of Labour, the National Insurance Board, the National Training Agency and the Bridge Authority.