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May 27, 2005

G.O.B. contract workers to be laid off

Story PictureWith the nation’s finances in the grips of a crisis, today the Musa administration announced its latest attempts of belt-tightening and expenditure cuts. Following a special Cabinet meeting in Belmopan on Thursday, the executive has decided that rather than enter into a formal standby arrangement with the International Monetary Fund, it will seek to administer a series of stringent measures engineered to “maintain the exchange rate peg”, a.k.a. avoid devaluation, ensure “fiscal sustainability within the shortest possible time” and stabilize the debt. According to G.O.B., Belmopan has determined that it needs to fill a seventy million dollar gap. And in order to do that, first on the list of things to do is trim the public service of what we understand to be a number of contract officers.

Godfrey Smith, Min., Foreign Affairs/Information
?We went ministry by ministry and we?ve taken a decision to cut three million dollars worth of contract officers. That decision has been taken, those persons have been identified and work will commence on that shortly. That?s underway, that?s not anything that will not happen. It will occur.?

Janelle Chanona
?That?s ten people, six??

Godfrey Smith
?That?s a long list. I don?t have the actual number of people but it?s a quite a substantial list of people. I will not be sharing the names with you at this time. Other measures for instance, we believe we can save close to nine million dollars stopping this absurd practice of giving automatic increments to public officers. You know that has been in place. How it should work when you go by the letter of the law, you have to earn it.?

?We will [also] be looking at some rationalisation of departments, collapsing departments together, thereby saving costs. We believe that another two million can be saved there. These figures are not coming from us ministers, politicians, these figures are coming from the technical people who have sat down and worked their way through the figures.?

We understand the mass firings and departmental restructuring will be done in conjunction with the previously announced plans to cut capital one and capital two projects. According to Smith, those projects will include postponement of the Technical and Vocational Education Training, TVET, projects and upgrades at the Marion Jones Sports Complex, which together result in seven million dollars towards the adjustment programme. We note that contract officers attached to the judiciary, legislature, and magistracy will not be included on the chopping block.

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