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Government has sought to dismiss rumours that the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration has inflated the wage bill by hiring highly-paid consultants and senior management.
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, in his address to the nation on Wednesday, said such claims by Opposition parties are based on “deliberate misinformation and untruth”.
He said: “Almost every one of the other positions that have been filled outside of the Public Service Commission has been done against existing budgetary allocations for established positions or to replace people whose contracts came to an end. So, in effect, the net cost to the government of the so-called engagement of consultants by our government is less than $300,000, which is significantly less than the salaries of the two highest-paid of the several consultants who were hired by the UWP government. The numbers do not lie.”
Dr. Anthony said when his government took office in 2011 “we found several consultants all over the Public Service. In the Ministry of Finance alone, I found 42 officers on contract with titles ranging from director to analyst to programme manager”.
He said “the ranges of the salaries being paid to those officers also varied with some as high as $20,000 and $16,800 per month. The highest basic salary that is allowed under our current salary scale is $12,831 per month. So the UWP government was paying its consultants basic salaries that were 55 percent more than what is permissible under our salaries structure”.
He further explained: “But that was not the full extent of the consultants under the last administration. In total, there were 141 officers assigned to various projects across the Civil Service who served under the King Administration and who were not appointed by the Public Service Commission. This is the category that suddenly, some have now started to refer to as “consultants” since December 2011. Apparently, when the Stephenson King administration was busy appointing those persons as consultants across the Public Service, no one cared or chose to see, speak or protest.
“The number of persons who have been employed by our government since assuming office pale in comparison with the astronomical level of hiring under the UWP. Between 2006 and 2011, during the reign of the UWP, the numbers in senior management of the Civil Service, which does not include the police, fire service, prisons, teachers, nurses or doctors, those in Grades 19-21, increased from 54 to 69, an increase of 15 or 28 percent.
He added: “In the time since our government has been in office, the numbers in Grades 19 to 21 in the civil service have increased by four – the special advisor on external affairs, the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, the permanent secretary of the Parastatal Monitoring Department, and the director of Public Sector Modernisation.
“The position of special advisor on national security was created by absorbing the position of director of special initiatives, which the Stephenson King government had created for Ausbert Regis, and which we had to upgrade from Grade 20 to 21 because of the ruling of the courts that King’s government had acted unlawfully, in contravention of the constitution, when it transferred Ausbert Regis. The net effect was an increase of $36,000 per year.
The position of permanent secretary, planning and national development was created by abolishing the position of permanent secretary, special initiatives, which also had been in use by the UWP government.”